Julie Baker wants the community to get involved in student testing.
On Friday, the Ridgeview Elementary School principal sent letters to Craig business owners asking for their support during the upcoming Colorado Student Assessment Program testing.
Beginning Tuesday and continuing through March 4, third-graders throughout the Moffat County School District will be tested in reading.
From March 14 through April 15, third- through 10th-grade students will be tested in math, writing and reading. Fifth-, eighth- and 10th-grade students will sit for an additional test in science.
Baker has asked business owners to display messages of encouragement on marquees during the testing periods.
The idea, Baker said, originated with students.
“We thought that was a wonderful and creative idea,” Baker said.
Baker has also asked her students and teachers to decorate the school with signs and banners voicing support and encouragement.
“We are making every effort to encourage our students to accept this challenge feeling confident and supported in every way possible,” she said.
Heather Vallem, a fourth-grade teacher at Ridgeview Elementary, said her students’ response to the initiative is in its formative stages.
Vallem envisions a twister-themed poster on her classroom door, with colorful circles and footprints cut out from construction paper.
“The twister board is going to be the background, and it’s going to say at the top, ‘Put your best foot forward on CSAP,’” Vallem said.
Vallem said students sometimes feel pressure from the tests.
“They hear that … a lot, CSAP,” she said.
But, she hopes the cooperative art project might take some of the edge off and help motivate students to perform well.
Mariah Doolin, a third-grade teacher at Ridgeview, said her class is putting together a bee-themed poster. The project is nearing completion.
“I think I’m going to write, ‘Busy bees are going to sting the CSAP,’” she said.
Doolin is in her first year as a teacher. She recently completed her own education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Despite being a newcomer to public education, Doolin said she’s not nervous about the exams.
“I am excited because it will be nice to see how my kids do,” she said.
She said she also tries to lessen her students’ apprehension about the tests.
“I try to tell them that everything we’ve done is to help prepare them,” she said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t be nervous. Do your best.’”
To encourage student attendance during the test times, Baker is offering incentives to Ridgeview students.
“I have ordered small prizes — pencils, (temporary) tattoos and stickers — for every child who is in attendance each day,” she said.
There will also be daily drawings for free bowling and movie passes, and a grand prize drawing for an iPod Shuffle.
Baker said some other prizes haven’t yet been announced.
“We want to surprise them,” she said of her students.
Christine Villard, the school district’s assistant superintendent, said teachers are approaching this year’s round of tests with excitement.
“I think people are excited to see the results,” she said. “We’ve been looking at data and coming up with action plans and improvement plans on increasing student learning.
“So, there’s a sense of anticipation of how students are going to perform.”
The data, she said, was derived from Measures of Academic Progress and Dynamic Inventory of Basic Early Literacy Skills tests, as well as tests from teachers.
Villard said it’s too soon to know how well the data will correlate with CSAP scores, but she’s optimistic.
“You know, I’ve heard a lot of positive comments,” she said of district teachers.
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