Partnership helps ease stress, support students
SIKESTON -- The year-long efforts by educators to prepare their students for the Missouri Assessment Program test will literally be put to the test beginning as early as Monday for some students.
And to ease the stress and show support to students, the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce, Scott County Central and Sikeston Public Schools have partnered to promote the importance of quality education as schools conduct the MAP test. Their joint effort will begin around 7:30 a.m. Monday with the MAP Awareness Kick-Off Day.
"Our business members are constantly looking for employees who have what it takes to be effective in the workplace. We feel MAP provides the yardstick which can be used by students and their parents to measure a student's learning success," said Debbie Glenn, SACC president.
The Chamber is focusing on raising the visibility of the MAP test within the community by encouraging merchants to place marquee messages and banners at their businesses to make parents aware of the testing and to add positive reinforcement to students taking the tests.
"We appreciate what the Chamber is doing," said Kathy Boldrey, Sikeston Public Schools assistant superintendent of curriculum and middle schools. "It can't hurt for students to know that their test results aren't just sitting in filing cabinets and that the community cares."
The schools are also trying to motivate their students by providing incentives for test takers. For example, Scott Central Elementary students who have 100 percent attendance during testing time will get an "afternoon of fun" and ticket and prize drawings will also be held, said Principal Lori Scheeter.
"We've been calling parents and letting them know that the MAP test is coming up. We try to stress how important the test is and encourage parents to have their kids get plenty of sleep and eat nutritious meals," Scheeter said. Scott Central's third and fourth graders begin testing Monday, while the other grades don't begin until the middle of April.
Each building for Sikeston Public Schools provides its own incentives, noted Boldrey. Some buildings are holding pep rallies and assemblies, others are doing skits to promote good participation during MAP testing, and some are promising extra play days, holding drawings for prizes for students who participate in MAP testing, she explained.
The MAP tests feature questions about real-life situations and students must explain their answers.
Both Scott Central and Sikeston schools' curriculums are designed around MAP testing. So when the week of testing approaches, it can be very stressful for the teachers, Scheeter said.
"Basically we stress writing good quality answers," said Alisha Lacy, Scott Central third grade science teacher. "As the test gets closer, we talk to the kids, but we try not to put pressure on them."
Parental involvement is a key to successful MAP scores, Lacy said. Teachers also give parents a copy of the quality answering guidelines that tells parents exactly what a test answer should contain.
Unlike the traditional standardized tests that only contain multiple-choice questions, the MAP tests contain three different sections to evaluate student knowledge and ability; the familiar multiple-choice test, some short answers called constructed response test and performance events.
"We've rewritten our tests to be more like the MAP tests," said Janet Hurst, Scott Central fourth grade social studies teacher. "Before most of our tests were multiple choice or true/false questions. We've constructed the test to have more performance events and multi-step answers."
MAP testing is a state-required exam that is taken in the spring by every school district. The test is a major factor in a school district getting accreditation with the state.
"Last year we did good, but we always want higher scores when it comes to MAP," Scheeter said, adding that Scott Central has seen some score improvement in areas over the last couple years.
Boldrey agreed, saying improvements must continue to be made. A few changes, such as working more with struggling students and mandatory tutoring, have been made to Sikeston's MAP preparation this year, she said, adding that the changes weren't entirely due to last year's low test scores in some content areas.
Beginning Monday and throughout April, Chamber volunteers will provide test takers with different items such as pencils, snacks, pens and moral support for taking the test. Chamber volunteers, who are still needed, are assigned to different schools and are finished in an hour, Glenn said.
"We want our students to understand we think this test is important and want them to do well," Glenn said. "We hope that by showing we know the test is going on and that we want them to succeed, they will see value in doing well on the test."
To volunteer for MAP Awareness Kick-Off Day, call the Chamber office at 471-2498.
* Read directions carefully
* Complete the questions that you know for sure
* Eliminate wrong answers on multiple choice questions
* Make sure the question's number and the number on the answer sheet match
* Pace yourself
* Answer all parts of the question
* Check your answers at the end, if time permits
* Think positively and take deep breaths
* Wear comfortable clothes
* Elaborate on your answers to score Advanced
Source: Sikeston Senior High School: Sikeston Career and Technology Center