Natchez-Adams students prepare for new state tests

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2001

AP and staff reports

Natchez students will be among more than 100,000 statewide who will take writing assessment tests this week in public schools.

&uot;This is all part of grade-level testing,&uot; said Joel Guyer, school psychologist and test coordinator for the Natchez-Adams School District.

Grade-level testing began in November and will continue into the second week of May.

Some 80,000 students in the fourth and seventh grades will take the writing portion of Mississippi’s new assessment tests Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Thursday, 35,000 high school students will take the writing section of the English II test.

In Natchez a total of 1,200 to 1,300 students in the three grade levels will take the tests this week.

This year’s scores will not hold anyone back a grade, but they will be the baseline for future students.

And students aren’t the only ones who will be evaluated. Student scores will be used to accredit schools and compare districts.

Elementary students will write about one topic each day, and there are no time limits.

Fourth-graders are expected to write at least one paragraph and most should be done in half an hour. The seventh-graders have to write three or more paragraphs, so it should take them about 45 minutes.

Valerie Troiana, director of the grade-level testing program for the state Department of Education, said the assessment tests could be a tool for ensuring that districts get extra training for their teachers or whatever else is necessary.

&uot;What we hope is that when you get the results back, people will look at what our schools are doing to teach writing, and try to improve that,&uot; Troiana, a former educator, said. &uot;The focus should be on improving education, not just accreditation levels.&uot;