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Cheering Classmates
Send Students to Tests


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Most of Parkville Community School's students know where they are and where they need to go on the states high stakes tests, even if they are not sure why their efforts are so critical. So after months of preparation, the school holds a pep rally to get its test-takers pumped. Included: Some student goals for this years test.


About This Series

Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio is spending time this school year at Parkville Community Schoolin Hartford, Connecticut, to report on the challenges an urban school faces and the strategies it employs in its quest to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The week before the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs) started, Parkville Community School was a frenzy of last-minute tutoring, skills assessment, and pep rallies.

This is the schools third and last chance to achieve Safe Harbor, a category of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act just below adequate yearly progress (AYP). To make Safe Harbor, a school must reduce the percentage of non-proficient students by 10 percent from the previous year. Teachers were making extra efforts over the past few weeks to help more students score in the 3, 4, and 5 range, the highest levels on the tests. The results probably will not be available until August.

And the week before the tests started, unfortunately, was cut short by a snow day. Students were due to return from a week-long break February 26, but schools were closed that day because of bad weather.

But noses came up from grindstones for some special programs in February and March. Students helped make dragons and paraded them down hallways as part of a Chinese New Year celebration.

In January, principal Elizabeth Michaelis listened to students explain what they are doing to improve their scores on areas of the state tests.

Staff and students did take time March 2, Dr. Seusss birthday, to read together as a school. Teachers, kindergartners, custodians, and others sat in the hallways, some wearing Cat in the Hat hats, reading their books.

In the four days left before testing began, students showed principal Elizabeth Michaelis graphs of how their work had improved over the past few weeks. Lists of CMT cheers decorated some hallways, including, If you pass the CMTs, it will be good for you and me, and I dont know what Ive been told, CMT is just like gold. Keep on learning and you will know.

GIVE ME A C

The cheers were heard loud and clear during the schools CMT parade at the end of the week before the tests. We are the Champions played over the public address system and chants of Go Parkville echoed in the hallways. Third-through-sixth graders paraded down hallways lined with cheering, pom-pom waving, sign-holding, kindergarten-through-second graders, rallying the older students to do their CMT best. Some of the cheers turned into spontaneous raps.

Students take time from studying to celebrate the Chinese New Year. (Photo courtesy of Parkville School)

Among the cheers belted out by the older students:

We've worked real hard on our DRP's Now it's time for the CMT's Parkville kids are really the best We'll do great on the CMT test Gooooooooo Parkville!

Some of the cheers turned into spontaneous raps, and three fifth graders coaxed Michaelis into hip-hopping along with them.

DID I MENTION STUDY?

Students seem to understand the importance of the tests and their individual performances. Some had listed their goals for this years tests which were posted in hallways. The lists included their scores from last years tests, in which categories and by how much they hoped to improve in reading, writing, and mathematics; and how they planned to meet the goal.

Ms. Michaelis joins the CMT parade. (Photo courtesy of Parkville School)

A sixth grader who posted 4s on the reading and writing sections last year and a 5 on the math section was aiming for all 5s this year.

I want this goal because I think I can do it, and I have the brains to do it, the student wrote. I will get all 5s by studying, going to Power Hour (before and after school extra help), working hard and doing my best.

Another student who scored 4s on all three sections last year also was shooting for straight 5s.

I would like to be a level 5 because this would mean that I am passing sixth grade and will mean that I will be happy, teachers and family.

Meeting the goal will mean, I would have to let go of my calculator. Im also going to study, study, and finally, study. Did I mention study? Also practice.

Someone else listed the motivation for improving: I want to make myself proud.

Second Grade Marches On

While second graders don’t take high-stakes tests, the assessments for that grade began before the CMTs, and the children know their numbers.

Mrs. Birch was timing some of her students to see how many words they could read in a minute. The goal is to get all children reading at least 68 words a minute.

“Want to see how much I got on the kite story?” a boy asked a classmate proudly, and then inflated his number.

Another student announced, “I can read 93 words a minute.”

For others, the numbers did not matter much. The class had a wide range of abilities. A boy bent over a book on King Tutenkhamen eagerly read a passage to a visitor, sounding out big-time words like inscriptions, mentions, kingdom, thousands, worshiped, and even Amenhotep. Mrs. Birch noted that not only was he a good reader, but he was bilingual.

Bert explained to a guest that he was writing sentences about two words, flower and hummingbird, and he wasted no time. “In a rain forest is a flower and flowers can only grow when the rain drops,” he wrote.