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N.D. State Assessment test begin this week

By Staff | Oct 23, 2009

Tests are synonymous with school, and students in Rugby’s schools will be taking some rather important ones, beginning this week.

Students in grades three thru eight and grade 11 will take the annual North Dakota State Assessment tests.

The tests which cover reading, language arts, math and science are used to determine if students are meeting the state’s academic benchmarks, and the district is meeting AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress – tied to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education mandate.

Jason Gullickson, Ely Elementary principal, said teachers prepare the students all year for these tests, which are mandated by the state Department of Public Instruction.

The school’s curriculum is aligned to cover the different subjects, and students twice a year also take a Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) test to assess their strengths and weaknesses and help educators determine where curriculum changes are needed.

Although the state assessment tests aren’t reflected on student’s report cards, they are important in determining if students are learning math, reading and language arts skills at or above the proficiency level set by the state.

“From an educator’s standpoint, it’s our job that our students are all meeting (that proficiency level),’ Gullickson said.

Under the NCLB regulation, all students must score at the proficiency level in order for the district and schools to be defined as meeting adequate yearly progress. If a school fails to meet that level for all of its students, eventually there could be sanctions placed on the district. Since NCLB was established seven years ago, the district has routinely met AYP.

At Ely Elementary and Little Flower School, students in grades three through six are tested in reading, language arts and mathematics. In addition, fourth grade students also test in science.

However, only the reading, language arts and math subjects are used to determine AYP.

Gullickson speculates that science may be a subject area that could be added in the future for all student tests. For now, baseline data is being gathered by test officials.

There is no set time when the grade school students will be tested. Gullickson leaves that up to the discretion of the classroom teachers. The students will likely take just two tests a day and there is no time limit.

At the Jr.-Sr. High, students in grades seven, eight and 11 will be tested in reading, language arts and math. Students in grades eight and 11 will also be tested in science.

Julie Sjol, Jr.-Sr. High guidance counselor, said the students who will be taking the assessment tests will gather this Monday, Oct. 26, for a brief motivational rally, and to learn how important the tests are for the students and for the district.

Testing for seventh grade students will be conducted on Oct. 28 and Nov. 5. Testing for eighth graders will be Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and 10. Juniors will be tested Oct. 29, Nov. 2 and 12.

Sjol said tests will be done in the morning as that has been determined to be when students at their best. There is also no time limit.

“We want the students to take that test at their own pace and not feel rushed,’ she said.

The fact Rugby’s students have scored at or above the state and national proficiency levels in previous yeas indicates students take these tests seriously, Sjol said.

And it’s also revealing that the curriculum in place by teachers is working to prepare the students for the tests. The focus of education extends far beyond a series of state tests conducted each fall, but those tests are important in determining how effective teachers are doing in the classroom.

Wolford School will be taking its tests on Tuesday morning, Oct. 27 and then again on Thursday, Oct. 29 and Nov. 3. A make-up date has been set for Nov. 5.

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