MCT2 starts Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — On Tuesday public schools across Mississippi will experience a quiet normally seen only in the summer months, but the schools won’t be closed — they’ll be taking the MCT2.

The Mississippi Curriculum Test, meant to judge a schools progress, is one of the most highly anticipated events of the school year. Testing is Tuesday through Thursday.

Superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District Anthony Morris said almost everything the district’s teachers do in a school year is aimed at preparing students for the test.

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“It’s extremely important,” Morris said of the test.

Students from third to eighth grade take the test and are tested on reading, language arts and mathematics.

Scores from the test are used gauge the overall rating a school receives on a scale from one to five, with a five being the highest achieving school.

However that grading system has been suspended, for this year only, since this year’s test is the first implementation of the MCT2.

Students have normally taken the MCT.

Morris described the new test as more rigorous.

Associate State Superintendent Kris Kasse said changes in the test were made to reflect goals more in line with the national averages.

Kasse said the previous MCT test was not as well aligned with national expectations.

“It could have been better matched,” he said.

But the effort to test that match has created nervousness and apprehension.

Morris likened the new test to moving up two grade levels.

He said what fourth graders will be tested on was at one time considered sixth-grade material.

Morris said the fact that the test is being given for the first time has created some anxiety.

“But it’s human nature,” he said of the anxiety. “We know the kids want to do well.”

And while test scores won’t be released until August, students are busy preparing.

At Morgantown Elementary School a small but determined group of fifth graders has been spending countless hours after school each day to ready themselves for the test.

Corey Ashley, 12, said he has been skipping after school activities to spend time studying for the test.

“It tests how smart you are against the whole state of Mississippi,” he said.

Ashley said he’s most concerned with the math portion of the test.

“Sometimes math can be hard,” he said.

Lauren Mullins, the students’ teacher, said she has confidence in her students that have been putting in extra hours after school she said.

But Mullins like Morris and countless others in the school system has some level of apprehension about the test.

Mullins said she only received the test’s blue print, equivalent to a study guide, about a month and a half ago.

Rhonda White, another of Morgantown’s fifth grade teachers, agreed with Mullins saying the grades on the test may be slightly lower than years past due to the increased difficulty of the test.

And while Mullins and her colleagues are feeling some pressure from the test her students are also.

Hannah Mullins, 11, not related to her teacher, said since the first day of school she has been hearing about the MCT2.

“They talk about it a lot,” she said.

Mullins said she is only slightly nervous about the test.

But she did have some words of encouragement for area teachers and the school district’s administrators.

“It’s OK to worry,” she said. “I think everyone is going to do well.”