Natchez High to begin state tests Tuesday

Published 12:13 am Monday, April 30, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School sophomore Devoncia Hammett stands as she answers a question asked by Mable Oatis, a retired English teacher from Meridian, as a group of students reviews terms for the English portion of the Subject Area Test Thursday evening at the Natchez High cafeteria. Oatis has been helping the sophomore English teachers to prep the students for the month of April.

NATCHEZ — State-mandated student evaluation tests begin at Natchez High Tuesday, and with the high-stakes nature of the tests on their minds, students are buckling down for some last-minute, high-intensity studying.

Since Thursday, NHS has played host to after-school, in-school and Saturday school review sessions for the Subject Area Testing Program tests. Sessions have focused on the core test areas, English, biology and U.S. history. This afternoon from 4 to 6, one last review session for the final core curriculum, Algebra I, will be in the school cafeteria.

“We are trying to make sure we teach them the basic skills they need for the tests, we want to make sure they are instructed for the tests,” Math Content Specialist Lillie Bryant said.

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The SATP is a standardized, statewide test that measures end-of-course performance in the areas of English, algebra, biology and U.S. history. Students must pass the tests to graduate.

In the math session, Bryant said the skills students will review will not only include how to complete the problems before them, but how to properly use their calculators.

“We are teaching the graphing calculator skills,” Bryant said. “In the past, some of them were using special programs you can download and put on your calculator where all you have to do is input the numbers and it will do it for you, but this year they can’t (do that), so we are teaching them the use of the basic calculator features.”

The review sessions have been based on SATP practice packets, and Bryant said classes in the school have been geared toward ensuring the students know the materials the tests will gauge. In-class reviews have been ongoing for several weeks.

“We have actually formatted our class instruction to mirror the state test items,” she said.

English II teacher Detranell Brinkley said the review sessions would also focus on teaching students to read their test items and look for themes.

Likewise, while working through the sample packets with the students, teachers would teach students how to break the questions down into separate parts and work with unfamiliar words.

“We want to give them a better understanding of the words so they will actually know what the question is asking,” Brinkley said.

“We want to show them how to look at the differences in the wording in questions and answers so they can choose the best one.”

That is exactly what Kiana Jones, 16, said she was there to learn Thursday.

“I am looking for ways to help me read the questions,” she said. “I think it is very important for me to be here.”

Angel Brooks, 16, said she attended the extra studying sessions because she knows she’s up against a high-stakes test.

“I am looking to learn new (testing) strategies I haven’t learned,” she said. “I came because I needed to do a lot of studying so I could pass (the test).”

Bryant said today’s Algebra review session is open to all students.

Students in grades three through eight will take the Mississippi Curriculum Test 2 May 8-10.