Schools, students get ready for state testing

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 5, 2008

VIDALIA — The countdown has begun. In less than a week state testing will begin in Concordia Parish schools.

That means, starting Monday, every student from the third- to 11th-grade will be taking either the LEAP, iLEAP or GEE test.

Students taking the LEAP test must achieve a certain percentage on the test to continue to the next grade, and students cannot graduate until they successfully pass the GEE.

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The iLEAP test is an assessment test to determine where a student is academically.

After the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, excitement about the tests begins to build, but the school district has to begin preparations long before that, Concordia Parish School District Director of Academics Paul Nelson said.

“These are cumulative tests, so we have to start preparing for them from day one,” Nelson said.

The way the district has worked to prepare for the tests this year has been to reinforce existing programs such as remedial math classes and the READ 180 program, Nelson said.

Some schools have also offered mock testing activities after school and opened their computer labs so students can access a state education department website to take test-like items to prepare.

“We have been successful with a lot of those things over the last few years,” Nelson said.

One new thing the district did this year was distribute a flash drive to all teachers with assessment guides for their classes.

“They can place that flash drive on any computer in the world and see items from LEAP tests from the last three years to practice with their students,” Nelson said.

At Vidalia High School, Principal Rick Brown said the school has been preparing for the Graduation Exit Examination, especially since January.

“Since then, we have basically done a 15 minutes a period review, but we have kept with the regular academics, because you can’t just stop and teach for testing,” Brown said. “We are just stressing the importance for students to do the best they can for themselves and the school.”

This year, however, there is one thing no one could really plan for, Nelson said.

“Daylight savings starts Sunday, and most people take a couple of days to adjust to that,” Nelson said. “They (the department of education) thought about moving it, but with the closeness of Good Friday and Easter, there was no good time when testing could be done and still get the results back before school ends.”

Students in fourth- and eighth-grades will take the LEAP test, students in 10th- and 11th-grades will take the GEE and all other tested grades will take the iLEAP.