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Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2014

Schools, students get ready to MAP the way

Sunday, March 30, 2008

SIKESTON -- Teachers and students work all year long to prepare for the state's standardized test administered each spring. Now it's time for students to prove what they've learned.

Beginning Monday and continuing through May 2, about 500,000 Missouri students in grades three through eight will take the Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, tests in communication arts and mathematics. Tenth-

graders also will take the math test; juniors are required to take the communication arts exam.

Science also returns to the MAP lineup this spring as a required subject for testing. Because of state budget restrictions, the MAP science test has only been used by school districts on a voluntary basis since 2003. The MAP science test has been redesigned and will now be given in grades 5, 8 and 11 to meet federal testing requirements.

On Friday Warren E. Hearnes Elementary in Charleston held a MAP pep rally, which featured a students-versus-parents academic challenge.

"The students and the teachers have all worked hard. This was a celebration of how hard they worked and to get them excited," said Tammy Brock, assistant principal at Hearnes Elementary.

The challenge, called "One versus 100," teamed up third and fourth grade students against their parents. Each group was presented with questions similar to those that will be on the MAP test.

"Hopefully this gives parents an awareness of how tough the test is and how important it is to help prepare for it throughout the year," Brock said. Besides conducting rallies to mentally prepare for the MAP, throughout the year school districts also implement various learning programs and assessments to prepare for the state test.

"Our teachers work through (the state's) grade level expectations throughout the year, and they are broken down by quarter. ... This helps them know that students are prepared throughout the year and not just at MAP time," said Brock about one of the school's MAP preparation methods.

Nearly half of this year's third, fourth and fifth graders at Matthews Elementary in Matthews are participating in a voluntary math and science club, which was developed mid-school year in 2006-2007.

"One of our teachers just came up with an idea for this and decided we'd try it and they enjoy it," said Don Phillips, principal at Matthews Elementary in Matthews. "This year it's been a really active effort to try and improve our MAP scores."

Last year the club met monthly, and this year it meets twice a month, Phillips said.

"We work in small groups and have games and activities and try to work in as much math as possible and enough science that supports the grade level expectations," Phillips said.

Third, fourth and fifth graders work in a combined effort so the students can learn from their peers, Phillips said.

"It's a lot more effective that way. It also reinforces the older kids who already have the skills," Phillips said.

Phillips said a couple of the teachers have told him they can tell a positive difference in math scores of students who are participating in the club. Teachers also use Study Island, a Web-based program that allows teachers to print worksheets that target specific skills students need help on, Phillips said.

Scott County Central Schools also use a software program, Classroom Manager, for second through eighth grades.

"It lets us develop MAP-like assessments in those grade levels for communication arts and math," said Eileen Owens, director of instruction at Scott County Central Schools. "We rotate subjects and administer assessments about every two weeks."

Also a MAP Club was started at the Junior High. Seventh and eighth graders meet after school two days a week and work on math and communication arts.

"This past year, we have been struggling with the Junior High and High School MAP scores, and that's why were concentrating on those grades. Hopefully, these will work out for us and students will do well on the MAP test," Owens said.

Owens said the district will begin MAP testing April 7 with the elementary and then move into the junior high and high school.

As testing approaches, the school administrators said parents should ensure their children get a good night's rest, arrive to school on time, eat breakfast and encourage the children to do their best.

"One of the biggest aims I have is to get parents in the home to be supportive. If they'll back the school up in the importance of this test, it will help," said Phillips.

Owens agreed. "As long as the kids know it's important to the teachers and the parents, then it becomes important to them."