RLMS rallies to improve test scores

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Multiplication relays, parent workshops and interactive reading are things of the past, and now the name of the game at Robert Lewis Middle School is merely waiting.

For the only Natchez-Adams school to enter into school improvement based on last year’s test scores, the moment of truth is upon them.

The school’s seventh- and eighth-graders, as well as the district’s second- through sixth-graders, will begin the Mississippi Curriculum Test shortly after the bell rings Tuesday morning.

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&uot;It is now the baby’s time to come,&uot; school literacy coach Zandra McDonald said. &uot;The kids understand the importance of the test and really strive to do their best.&uot;

The No Child Left Behind rating of School Improvement, Year 1, meant teachers and administrators had to outline a plan for success at the start of this year.

Though the plan has been implemented throughout the year, methods to boost test scores really stepped up in mid-March, early April.

A major area of concern based on last year’s tests is math, teacher Cassandra Jones said. School-wide every teacher does anywhere between five and 20 minutes of math skills each day. In language arts class, the math focus was on word problems.

&uot;In conjunction with their math classes, they are doing math in the English department as well,&uot; Jones said. &uot;We take their strengths to build up their weaknesses.

&uot;You have to read to work word problems. If we can understand, it we can break it down.&uot;

Jones said each teacher incorporates math in his or her own way, providing a wide spectrum of learning for the students. In turn, math teachers assign sentence writing to their students to further blend subject areas.

The school has also held parent workshops on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to review test preparation with parents.

&uot;We’ve worked through the workbook,&uot; math teacher Leigh Ann Mason said. &uot;They can now work with the children at home on applying multiple choice answers to the question. They can teach kids how to take the test and think through it.&uot;

McDonald said she was happy with the parent attendance they had received.

In English and writing classes students have worked in groups to boost specific skills they struggle in, teacher Linda Logan said.

&uot;We use context clues,&uot; seventh-grader Ashley Colson said. &uot;You go back to answer A and say why it’s wrong, and why you chose the answer you chose.&uot;

Seventh-grade, as well as fourth-grade, is a benchmark testing year. If students fail to pass the MCT in those grades they cannot move on to the next grade without passing a review panel.

The students in Logan’s class said they were ready for the test, and though maybe a little nervous, they were prepared.

&uot;I’m ready,&uot; Jasmine Belton said. &uot;I try hard and I study a lot for the test. I go back in my notebook and I read over the stuff the teacher did in review.&uot;

Mason said she felt the students were anticipating next week in a good way.

&uot;I think they are feeling a little tense,&uot; she said. &uot;But they are excited too. They’ve been working up to taking this test.&uot;

The reason RLMS fell into school improvement last year was based on the number of students testing and not their actual test performance.

Last year, too few white students and students with disabilities took the test.

Principal Bettye Bell said parents could help ensure that the right number of students is tested this year.

&uot;Parents need to know how important it is to support the MCT,&uot; Bell said. &uot;Our children have excelled here in extracurricular activities, now it is time to put as much emphasis on academics.

&uot;They need to be here on time. If they are suspended, they still need to come. Get here on time, have a good night’s sleep and feed them well.&uot;

The MCT will be given at McLaurin, Morgantown and RLMS Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday will be the writing portion, followed by language and math on Wednesday and Thursday.

Students at RLMS and Natchez High took subject area tests from Tuesday to Friday this week.