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Second round of parish testing begins

ERIC J. SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vidalia Junior High School’s Andrea Foster, left, Jasmine Mayes, center, and Lashawan Franklin share a laugh during a special celebration prior to the start of the second phase of state tests. Testing starts Monday.

VIDALIA — Concordia Parish students will begin the second phase of testing Monday and area schools have a few tips for parents on how to make their children’s testing less stressful.

Students in grades 4, 8, 10 and 11 will be taking the second phase of high-stakes tests, which require students to achieve a certain score to proceed to the next grade.

On March 22, fourth and eighth graders took the writing and math constructed response items of the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program exam, while 10th-grade and 11th-grade students took the writing, math, science and social studies constructed response items of the Graduation Exit Examination.

Starting Monday, LEAP and GEE students will be tested on the remaining portions of the writing, math, science and social studies tests.

ERIC J. SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Tyler Allen, 15, listens as principal Whest Shirley gives a motivational test speech.

Students in grades 3, 5, 6 and 7 will also be taking the Integrated LEAP test starting Monday. The iLEAP does not determine whether or not students will proceed to the next grade.

School Board Academic Director Paul Nelson said the difference between the high-stakes testing and the iLEAP exams lies in the way the exams are laid out.

“When you look at the LEAP and GEE, they are criteria reference tests,” he said. “They look at a student in fourth grade, and they are tested on having a set group of skills they should posses at their age.”

Nelson said the iLEAP is a norm reference test, meaning they have questions they have tested students on all over the nation and they base the score on how well you did compared to the rest of the country.

“If you scored in the 75th percentile, that means you did better than 75 percent of people that took the test,” he said.

Nelson said testing is a stressful time of the year for students and teachers, but he believes everyone is up to the challenge.

“Everyone has been working really hard all year to get ready for the tests,” he said. “We have had workshops after school, tutoring on Saturdays and teachers have been preparing students specifically for the exams. We are very hopeful and positive.”

Nelson said the test scores are weighed and contribute to the schools overall performance score, so doing well is a major priority for everyone involved.

“It is in our best intentions to prepare everyone the best we can, and that is what we have done,” he said.

School officials suggest parents do the following in preparation for the tests:

• Reassure your child that he or she does not have to answer all the questions correctly to pass. It is not expected that students answer every question correctly.

• Tell your child to attempt to answer all of the questions and not to leave any blanks. There is no penalty for guessing, and students can get partial credit on the open-ended items.

• Remind your child that the test is important.

• Explain to your child the importance of using time wisely. If your child gets stuck on a question, encourage him or her to make the best guess or place a mark in the test booklet by that item and go back to it after finishing that section of the test.

• Make certain your child gets a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast before taking the test.

• Try to make the mornings of the test pleasant. Do not add to your child’s stress.

• Get your child to school on time the days of the test.

• Remind your child to listen carefully to the instructions from the teacher, and read the directions to each question carefully.

• Remind your child to stay focused on the test, even if other students finish early.

• Remind your child that it is OK to mark in the test booklet as a help in taking the test.

• Remind your child to be certain that the number of the question in the test booklet matches the number on the answer sheet.

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