That, of course, can affect their scores, which is why teachers and administrators in Anniston public schools spent this week not only reviewing for the standardized tests students will be taking next week, but having fun to help put them at ease.
Testing shouldn’t be frightening, said Tenth Street Elementary Principal Dexter Copeland.
“I think it’s good for them to be enthused about testing,” Copeland said.
At Tenth Street, the teachers stayed late Monday to decorate the halls on the theme of “Taking Care of Business.” Yellow caution tape was draped from the ceilings, orange plastic cones directed student traffic down the hall and bulletin boards reminded them that great minds were under construction in the school.
On Thursday, there was a motivational speaker. On Friday, students dressed in costumes representing professions in which they were interested. The day wrapped up with a basketball game between the fourth- and fifth-grade girls and the teachers.
The students love it, Copeland said, and it gets them excited about the tests that they will be taking next week. It also gets them thinking about their future.
Tamera Booth dressed as a singer, but considered dressing as a nurse.
“I have a lot of dreams,” Booth said.
Thursday at Randolph Park Elementary, students did a Zumba workout to remind them to exercise their best on the test. On Friday, the Anniston High School marching band was going to rouse them to “march for success.”
Students were able to bring and eat treats. School officials said it was a stress-reliever.
“Since January, we have been in full gear with test prep,” said Principal Sandra Gunter. “We’re just giving them a break. I think we’ve pushed them to the limit.”
The tests the students will be taking next week are important to the teachers and administrators. Scores are used to judge the schools’ effectiveness under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and can make the difference from a school being judged adequate or being labeled needing improvement.
If it misses the mark too often, a school can be forced to accept guidance and decisions from outside agencies.
So while the activities planned at the schools are fun, they are also meant to motivate the students to do their best. At Cobb Elementary School, Principal Yolanda McCants decided to use the buddy system. The kindergartners were paired with the fifth-graders, the first-graders were paired with the fourth-graders and the second-graders were paired with the third-graders so the younger students could “pep up” the older students who would be taking the tests, McCants said.
“The lower grades that will not be testing will be motivating the grade levels that will be testing,” McCants said.
On Friday afternoon, at the academic pep rally, each grade had its own cheer, the lower grades leading the older students. The teachers had prepared a song using the school’s motivational theme, “Make Your Fruit of Excellence Shine.”
All next week, the lower grades will continue to encourage the older students with cards and presentations, McCants said.
At Anniston Middle School, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders enjoyed their pep rally with the teachers doing a cheer and dance routine and the high school band serenading them. Student groups performed, as did some Jacksonville State University students.
“This is all about the students,” Principal Lynwood Hawkins said.
The pep rally lets the students know the teachers and administrators appreciate their hard work. But it also provides motivation to do their very best, Hawkins said.
“We come together to show that everybody’s worked hard and now it’s time to do our very best on the test,” Hawkins said.
He thinks it works.
“Our children have stepped up to the plate and done their very, very best,” Hawkins said.
Alexus Caver, a fourth-grader at Tenth Street, was excited not only about the basketball game — which she said would end with the teachers losing and in tears — but also about the tests next week.
“We’re ready for ’em,” she said confidently.
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.