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Teachers try not to let kids stress

Ohanian Comment: Warning this comment is over the top and probably in poor taste, but I do think we should all be alarmed when the school starts training kids to obey the State--with no questions asked. When I read that little kids find mints on their desks on the morning of the State test, I thought of two things:

1) Kool-Aid at Jonestown
2) A new campaign: Warn little kids not to take candy from test givers.

Question: Doesn't an education reporter have a smidgen of duty to dig a bit below the rah-rah official press statements issued by the school district--and acknowledge that opposition exists?

Chris Casey

Teachers at Bella Romero Elementary School and across Greeley-Evans School District 6 have stepped up the "rah-rah" in their classrooms. They talk about "brain food" and getting a good night's rest.

No, it's not to celebrate the arrival of spring. It's not for a specific health lesson.

It's in the name of getting students psyched up for the annual Colorado Student Assessment Program tests.

Students at Bella Romero Elementary School in east Greeley found mints and notes on their desks the mornings of Feb. 13 and 14, when the CSAP reading tests were given. They'll find similar encouraging words and treats this month as CSAP testing hits full stride.

"The kids really like the notes with candy when they walk in," said Tammy Rogers, a third-grade teacher at Bella Romero.

Elementary teachers were given practice packets in the fall. The packets are geared toward not only getting youngsters ready for the tests, but to ease them into the world of standardized tests. It's especially new for third-graders, who are going into their first round of testing.

"So many kids are coming in without any background in that," said Pam Dechant, school assessment coordinator at Bella Romero. "That's more what the practice is -- learning the process of taking it."

Michele Turner, Bella Romero principal, said her staff takes the approach of trying to keep things as normal as possible during the tests. During the school year, students each morning recite the "Student Code of Conduct," which includes a line about doing your personal best. That's the same idea with CSAP tests, she said, just doing your best.

"What I try to convey to the kids is, 'You've been taught what you need through the whole school year. You can do it,' " Turner said.

Rogers said the hardest thing for her as a test proctor is to not provide assistance during the test. Younger students are accustomed to teachers being at their beck and call.

Still, students came in on the February test days generally enthused, she said. "I have several kids who love the challenge. They were pretty psyched for that test."

Even more students have responded to reminders to get a good night's sleep before the tests, Rogers said.

"There were a lot of kids in bed early that night because they knew that test was the next day," she said. "... I had numerous parents tell me that the kids did it on their own."

— Chris Casey
Greeley Tribune


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