LEAP tests begin Monday

Published 11:55 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

VIDALIA — State-mandated testing begins in the Concordia Parish schools next Monday, and preparations are underway to ensure the schools perform as well as they can.

“Of course, you don’t wait until now to start preparing,” Vidalia Upper Elementary Principal Darla Johnston said. “You start preparing at the beginning of the year.”

But a little extra practice doesn’t hurt, and at VUE they have been doing in school and after school tutoring.

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“We have been concentrating on testing skills and mock testing,” Johnston said.

At Ridgecrest Elementary School, similar programs have been put in place, interim Principal Nancy Anders said.

Along with after-school tutoring and opening the school’s computer labs so students and their parents can work on practice tests, the school pulled students from 30 minutes of their Physical Education class every day to work on math skills.

“We already had a language program where other children were already getting pulled out of P.E. for that,” Anders said.

At Vidalia High School, since January teachers have taken 15 minutes out of every period to review for the tests.

But the preparation begins well before testing. In fact, it begins in the years before the students will even be tested.

At Vidalia Lower Elementary, where the students don’t have to take the state-mandated tests because testing starts at the third-grade level, Principal Doris Polk said students take parish-wide tests every six weeks to prepare them for the third grade.

“The tests get them into practice so they know how to bubble in their answers and not just scribble them in the bubbles,” Polk said.

Other than reviewing the subjects that will be on the tests, VHS Principal Rick Brown said the school is not doing anything out of the ordinary.

“We feel if we put too much emphasis on the tests, the students will put too much pressure on themselves or think the year is over because they took the test,” Brown said.

Johnston said VUE is not doing anything other than stressing the importance of the tests and working to keep the students prepared for them this week, but next week they will do a few things to motivate the students.

“We have a lot of little treats planned for next week,” Johnston said. “We have some incentives like drawings and prizes to motivate them.”

And at Ridgecrest, today they will have a pep rally with a motivational speaker.

“I think this may be the first time the students have had a pep rally,” Anders said. “We’re just doing anything we can do to encourage them and build them up.”

“I think everybody is ready for the test,” Anders said.

Students from the third to 11th grades will be tested. Fourth and eighth graders will take the LEAP test, 10th and 11th-graders will take the GEE and all other tested grades will take the iLEAP test.

The LEAP and GEE tests are considered high-stakes tests, meaning students have to achieve a certain level on them to proceed to the next grade.

The iLEAP is an assessment test that does not determine whether a student passes or fails a grade.