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Re: no comment (want fries with that?)

I think I'll dress-up like our "Gov" and get some testing laws changed. Mike

-----Original Message-----
From: PAVURSOL@aol.com [mailto:PAVURSOL@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2003 11:25 AM
To: arn-l@interversity.org
Subject: [arn-l] no comment (want fries with that?)


By Miriam Stawowy
Daily Press (newport News, va)

Pep rallies, ice cream parties, motivational speakers, power breakfasts, you

name it.

When it comes to motivating students for the annual state achievement tests,

schools go the extra mile.

This week, throughout most of May and into June, students in the area will
take most of the crucial Standards of Learning tests. 

And already, some school principals are jumping in with some creative -
others might call it wacky - ideas on how to psych-up those test-takers.

"Food does wonders," said David Gaston, principal of Burbank Elementary
School in Hampton.

An ice cream sundae party in June is what Gaston has promised. The treat
go to the grade that wins a contest that requires students to use
strategies they've learned to correctly answer SOL practice questions.

The biggest prize of all, however, might come in the fall when Gaston agreed

to dress in a pink tutu for a day if Burbank reaches full accreditation, the

highest state ranking based on SOL scores.

Students are tickled with the idea. But does he think it will make them try
harder on the tests?

"That's an interesting question," he said. "If anything, it's an attempt to
get things focused. It does up the ante because they do want to see it,
whether it's me kissing a pig or wearing the tutu. There were a few other
ideas out there."

But in the quest to improve test scores and motivate students, are some
schools going too far by unnecessarily singling out students?

One school in Isle of Wight, Hardy Elementary School, mailed out fliers to
parents with their children informing them that third- and fourth-graders
passing the reading and writing portions of the SOLs would be invited to a
McDonald's breakfast sandwich and juice.

"Remember, only those friends passing the test will be invited," the flier

Whitney McBurney, who has a fifth-grade daughter at Hardy, said she hasn't
heard about the McDonald's breakfast. Her daughter is taking the SOL tests
this year, but she doesn't think there's anything wrong with rewarding
students who pass the SOL exams.

"To me, it's the same concept as the Honor Roll breakfast. It's recognizing
their achievement," she said. "There are kids who don't get the juice and
doughnut because they don't make the honor roll."

She said the school now has a "Bringing Up Grades" award for students who
might not make the honor roll but still show improvement and work ethic.

"We really try hard not to single out people," she said. "We realize that
kids don't have the same advantages that other kids do."

Watkins Elementary School Principal Gwendolyn Clash in Newport News said she

focuses her motivational events to include the entire school.

Fun activities help relieve some of the testing stress and anxiety that
with taking such crucial tests.

"We want to get the school in a mode," she said.

The week before students begin testing has been declared SOL Spirit Week at
the school, with every day having a theme and matching SOL activity. There's

"Thinking Cap Thursday" where students get to wear wacky hats that help them

think better and then write about their experience to practice writing.

 "What I try to get across to parents is that the SOLs don't start in third,

fourth or fifth grade," Clash said. "They start before that."

Staff writers Jessica Hanthorn and Justin George contributed to this report.


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