SIKESTON -- Most students know the drill when it comes to taking the Missouri Assessment Program test. Get a good night's sleep, eat breakfast and bring something to read for when finished testing.
For new Sikeston R-6 teachers like Beth Lambert and Lisa Hill, administering the standardized test during its testing window, which begins Monday and ends April 30, will be a first-time experience.
In addition to measuring students' progress, the mandatory state test can also reflect teachers' effectiveness in the classrooms.
"I do kind of get nervous since this is the first year I'm giving the test," Lambert admitted. "I have seen samples of problems, but I actually haven't given the test."
Lambert, a third grade teacher at Morehouse Elementary, said her students will take the MAP test in a three-day span beginning April 14 and then another three-day span the week after. But Lambert said she and her class are ready.
"We've been preparing all year with our reading unit," Lambert said. "Every story has a constructive response question, which is the format of the MAP test, so it gets the kids ready."
After a nine-year absence from teaching, Hill returned to the profession this year as a teacher at the Sikeston High School. She will administer the 10th grade science and math portions of the MAP tests beginning Wednesday. The high school will use a three-week window so that make-ups can be done.
While Hill may not be new to teaching, she is new to the MAP test. When she taught years ago, MAP's predecessor, the MMAT (Missouri Mastery Achievement Test) was the state test, but Hill said the two tests are very different.
"The MMAT test was a content-based test. We were given the core areas to be tested. As an example, when I was teaching sixth grade in Cape, my science areas to be tested were things like acids/bases, potential and kinetic energy, etc. I could develop a unit and use labs to teach the core area," Hill explained.
Since this is Hill's first year, she has yet to actually see the MAP test, she pointed out.
"I don't know exactly what to expect," Hill said. "Unlike MMAT which was all multiple choice, most of the MAP involves constructed response -- what we would call essay -- in math, they must show all work in the test booklet. There is no multiple choice; they just show the answer with their work."
To prepare for the test, the entire high school, like the elementary and middle schools, has worked on terminology and constructed responses, which means writing out an answer, or the working of a math problem, Hill explained.
"We've talked about how to begin a good answer such as which words to use and which ones not to use and don't begin the first sentence with he, she or they. We tell them to be really specific," Lambert said about her third graders.
Lambert has also sought advice from her colleagues about what to expect when administering the test.
"We discussed the amount of multiple questions and how the test is set up and the time frame of the test," Lambert said. Hill said she hopes the kids can stay fresh and focused throughout the testing sessions. She doesn't want fatigue to enter into the equation, she said, adding even with adults, testing situations cause tremendous internal stress.
"I find that I have felt the need to encourage the kids that this is not to show if they are smart or dumb, but to see what they know from the world around them," Hill said. "I tell them daily: 'Just show your ideas and your work and try to answer the questions -- show us how you are thinking.'"