Parents updated on testing plans

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 4, 2012

Parents got a snapshot of what to expect and the opportunity to ask questions about next week’s Mississippi Curriculum Test Thursday at Brookhaven Elementary School.

     Stephanie Henderson, Brookhaven School District’s director of Assessment and Accountability, spoke to around 100 people in BES’ library to give information about the test during their “Lunch and Learn” program.

     Henderson said the most important thing was that parents ask their children to do their very best on the test.

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     “Some people compare their children to others, and that’s not what they should do,” she said. “They should simply ask their child do to their absolute best.”

     The curriculum for the test has been changed, resulting in the MCT2.

     “More rigor was added to the test,” Henderson said. “It was done statewide to gear Mississippi up and compete better nationally.”

     The test is comprehensive, comprising all the students do in the eight-month school year, which means there’s no way parents can really prepare students for the test in the week leading up.

     “The important thing is to make sure school is taken seriously from day one,” Henderson said. “It cannot only be taken seriously on test day or test week.”

     Mississippi’s standardized test for elementary school students is not high stakes, meaning students will progress onto the next grade regardless of how they score, as long as their grades for the school year suffice.

     Students are evaluated on two sections, language arts and mathematics, with the reading and vocabulary portion on May 8, writing and grammar on May 9 and mathematics on May 10. A make-up day for students that miss any days of the test will close the week on May 11.

     All students in grades 3-8 must take the exam, which is not timed.

     “Students will have all the time they need to complete the test,” said Henderson.

     After the test is completed, it will be graded. Students will be given their results, which will either be minimal, the lowest score; basic; proficient; or advanced, the highest score.

     Not all questions will be easy ones or difficult ones for students, as some are designed so that most students do not know the answer, and some designed so most students do know the answer, according to Henderson.

     Henderson said students scoring minimal would get extra help in the following school year, but will not be placed in separate groups from the rest of their peers.

     “Research shows students who are behind do much better when they are around students who are ahead of them in areas, because that shows them the correct way things are done and motivates them,” she said. “Placing students who did poorly around other students who did the same does not produce the same results.”

     Henderson said she recommends students get a good night’s rest and eat a nutritious meal before the test so they can properly focus.