Craig Educators in the Moffat County School District don't want students to do what Brandon Vigil did last year.
The Moffat County High School student hastily filled in his Colorado Student Assessment Program test in about three minutes.
"I'll try this year," the sophomore said.
The high school's freshmen and sophomores had the chance today to try to get good scores on the state-required tests and students will be rewarded if they do.
Students whose teachers notice they are making an effort to take the tests seriously are offered a free off-campus lunch privilege with their parents this Thursday and next week on the same day. Off-campus lunches are normally reserved for upperclassmen.
CSAP test score determine a school's accountability report that is compared against other schools across the state. Test scores are rarely used for higher education requirements so some students may find the effort pointless.
But schools can't get an accurate representation of a student's achievement if they don't take the tests in good faith, said teacher Craig Conrad.
"If all our students just take the test and don't just fill in the blanks, we'll do better than last year," he said.
Moffat County High School ranked "average" with "stable" improvement last year.
Math scores were particularly low with only 18 percent of the test takers considered proficient or advanced in math. The scores were 11 percent below the state average.
To give high school students an extra incentive to do well on the tests, teachers Lance Scranton and Craig Conrad hosted a pre-test day pep assembly called "Zap the CSAP" on Tuesday.
It included a humorous homemade video of Scranton and Conrad vigorously prepping for a "fight" as an analogy of how students should prepare for the testing.
Conrad also gave a speech about the resiliency of former Moffat County High School graduate Donnie McLeslie, who graduated without learning to read because he was diagnosed with development problems. McLeslie read for students a poem on how to be the best person possible.
Next year, high school educators may offer students further incentives to do well on the CSAP tests, such as a half-credit for students who earn good scores, Conrad said.
Sophomore, Donovan Asselin said the assembly changed his views about taking the test.
"It inspired me a lot to try to do better on the test," he said, citing McLeslie's struggle to earn an education.
"Before I thought this was just a way to get through school."
Assistant Principal Jessie Farr said she hoped the pep talks and incentives will work.
"I hope this helps kids take it seriously," she said. "In other years, I don't think we've gotten the best out of them."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.