Parents, teachers get students ready for test

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 10, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Getting a good night’s sleep, eating a good breakfast, relaxing with a book this weekend and thinking positively could give students an edge in taking tests next week, say state and Concordia Parish educators.

&uot;My daughter’s pretty nervous about the test, because their teachers have told them how important it is to pass,&uot;&160;said Cheryl Probst, mother of eighth-grader Kayla. &uot;But there are things we can do, such as not putting more stress on our children that day, that are just common sense.&uot;

In all, 352 parish fourth-graders and 377 eighth-graders will take the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program test Monday through Friday.

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Third, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth grades – 1,810 students – will take the Iowa Test, a national achievement test.

And 231 10th-graders take the Graduate Exit Exam, which they must pass now or in four later retests to graduate.

More than 450,000 Louisiana students will take some type of test next week.

Of the 612 students who took LEAP last year, 223 students failed the math, language, or both sections of the test, compared to about 480 last year.

Results of this spring’s test are expected in mid-May.

Students who fail the LEAP’s English and math sections now and during a July retest, but still pass their classes, will pass to the next grade. But they will have to take transitional classes in the LEAP sections they failed. Eventually, schools that don’t measure up on such tests could lose state funding or see students transfer elsewhere.

Fred Marsalis, principal of Vidalia Junior High, gave students a motivational speech Friday afternoon to psyche them up for the tests.

&uot;We want students to come in Monday with a positive mindset, so we’re asking parents to reinforce in them that they can do it, that they will pass,&uot;&160;Marsalis said.

&uot;At this point, though, we do not recommend excessive cramming for the test. We hope that at this stage, the kids are ready.&uot;

But most test preparation has already been done throughout the school year, such as sending home LEAP preparation workbooks periodically.

&uot;We try to incorporate (test-related skills) all day long, in all our classes, and we have after-school tutoring programs, too,&uot;&160;said Monterey School&160;Principal Neeva Sibley.

&uot;And our parents have been very supportive&uot; of that by helping students study at home, too, Sibley said.

Probst said Vidalia Junior High eighth-graders received math workbooks every six weeks. &uot;We spent several hours working through those in addition to (Kayla’s) regular homework,&uot; Probst said. She and her daughter have also worked other sample problems prior to the test.

Other parents have not worried too much about the LEAP test, including Charla Knapp, whose daughter Chelsey is also a Vidalia eighth-grader.

&uot;I haven’t worried too much about it and have let her basically do her own thing when it came to studying for that, because she already makes A’s and B’s in school,&uot;&160;Knapp said.

Knapp said her daughter has not expressed concern about the test, and neither have most of the parents Knapp knows. &uot;I haven’t heard of too many people being concerned.&uot;

But the LEAP test is not the only test students will take starting Monday.

Unlike the LEAP test, which compares students’ performance with what the state expects them to learn, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills is a national test of student achievement.

Students’ scores are ranked nationally by percentile, with a percentile of 50 representing the national average. The Iowa Test quizzes students in several subjects, including reading, language arts, math, social studies, science and use of reference materials.