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Officials stress importance of subject area tests

With Subject Area Testing taking place this week, schoolofficials are asking students and parents to remember that whilesimply passing the test is enough to graduate, the schools’ ratingsare based upon the students’ performance.

“These tests are important because they’re graduationrequirements for the children, and they don’t get their diploma ifthey don’t pass,” said Brookhaven Schools Superintendent LeaBarrett. “But these tests are also the ones used to determine theperformance level of the schools.”

Brookhaven High School currently holds a Level Three rating, andBarrett stressed that parents can emphasize to their children howimportant doing well on the test can be.

“I certainly know parents in the community want schools that areLevel Five schools, so anything parents can do to encourage kidsnot to just pass, but to do well, helps us,” she said. “The minimalscore plus one passes, but to have Level Four or Level Fiveschools, the kids have to do well on the tests.”

West Lincoln School Principal Jason Case agreed that parents, aswell as teachers, can be all the difference in a child’sperformance on the test. West Lincoln has boasted a Level Fiverating for the last five years.

“I think also it has to do with the expectations the teachershave for the students and their letting them know early on whatthey expect out of them,” he said. “The more focus there is on it,the more it instills in the kids that this is important, and theystrive much harder. It’s also vital to have parent support, and wehave good parents.”

Barrett said parents must encourage the children, because unlikethe ACT or SAT, the SATP tests don’t have scholarships attached toa stellar performance. Case said officials at West Lincoln had setup a program with incentives for students who score well on thetests.

“We talk to them about how important it is to do well on thetest, and they also know what they make on this test will be ontheir permanent records,” he said. “We also give incentives forkids who make a 400 or above. We have a 400 Club, where werecognize them and give them privileges on campus for scoring abovea 400 on these tests.”

Barrett said the city schools have been working toward higherscores on the tests by standardizing school tests to similarformats, as well as training teachers to address the subject matterthat is addressed on the tests.

“We’ve done a good bit of work with the early release Thursdaysto realign our curriculum, and we’ve had revisions to thecurriculum to make sure we give kids tests which replicate theformats of these tests,” she said. “The state has gone in to makecurriculums statewide more rigorous because they want our kids tobe nationally competitive, and we’ve tried to address that aswell.”

And at West Lincoln, the same thought is given to the testingprocess when the curriculum is put together.

“We put our main focus on teaching the skills that are requiredby the state, and all our lesson plans are geared toward thoseskills,” he said.