Superintendent offers LEAP advice
DONALDSONVILLE – With statewide testing a little less than a month away, Ascension Parish School Superintendent Donald Songy says he wants to make sure teachers, parents and students are aware of available study resources and that everyone is working together to make sure students perform well when state testing starts April 1.
“We are very confident that our students have the knowledge to do very well on their tests,” Songy said. “But I think if we can offer them a way to practice their skills and get familiar with the format of the questions on the test, we can relieve some of their anxiety and give them the confidence they need to demonstrate they have mastered their courses this year. As our students and their teachers and families prepare for the state tests, I know they will be seeking resources to help them get ready. We want to encourage them to take advantage of the various resources available to them, free of charge, through our schools, districts and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).”
In terms of in-school study resources, in January, LDOE distributed LEAP and GEE practice tests to all local districts across the state. Many teachers have come to rely on these practice tests to prepare fourth, eighth, tenth and eleventh grade students for their individual assessments in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. While the practice tests include an answer sheet, the primary function of this resource is to familiarize students with the format of the test questions. The fourth grade practice test also includes a practice English language arts composition that teachers can send off to be graded by the same organization that grades the LEAP exam.
In addition, the Ascension Parish Public School System has initiated quarterly benchmark assessments, taken by students across the parish. These tests were designed to address the skills and competencies addressed in the Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, on which the LEAP and GEE are based. Since these tests are constructed in the same format as the state’s high-stakes tests, our students should be better prepared to demonstrate their mastery of the curriculum.
Another resource, LDOE’s PASS-Online (Practice Assessment/Strengthen Skills), allows 3rd through 12th grade students to test their knowledge of English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies through online practice tests. The questions on these practice tests are formatted similar to those on the LEAP, iLEAP, GEE and LAA 2 exams. A key feature of this tutoring resource is the instructional feedback and support that students receive when they incorrectly answer a question. Some constructed response questions are hand-scored.
Additionally, students in 8th grade and 10th grade can go to PASS-Online at any time and choose a topic, write a composition and have it scored through PASS-Online. Students must register the first time they access PASS-Online resources by logging on to www.louisianapass.org or LDOE’s Web site at www.louisianaschools.net. Students can obtain a password through their school or by calling the LDOE Help Line, 1-877-453-2721 (toll free).
If students do not have access to a computer or the Internet after they leave school, parents, teachers or students may choose to log on to LDOE’s Web site, www.louisianaschools.net, when they have access to a computer and print a copy of one or more of the PASS on Paper tests. These are short lessons in English language arts, mathematics, science and social students for 4th, 8th, 10th and 11th grade students. The questions are designed to test students’ skills based on grade level standards and benchmarks. This resource also includes test-taking tips.
Students in first through eighth grade who want to focus on their math skills may want to take advantage of Newton’s Classroom, which is another online resource offered through LDOE. This interactive resource contains mathematics tutorials. Each of the lessons is designed with three levels of basic skills and concepts. This is an excellent and fun resource for parents and students. Newton’s Classroom can also be accessed by logging on to www.louisianapass.org or www.louisianaschools.net.
“As our students prepare for state testing, we are eager to support their needs, and we want to encourage families, and others who are in a position to support students, to join us as we offer them reassurance, assistance and support,” Songy said. “Research shows that almost 50 percent of a student’s academic performance is influenced by his or her home and family life, so it is crucial that the education community provide families with resources to connect to their students’ academic needs. We will continue to reach out to the community, and especially families, to remind them of these resources as I know our students really need the help and encouragement of those around them.”
The following are test-taking tips for families, suggested by Songy. For further assistance or for more information about testing resources, please contact the LDOE Help Center toll-free at 1-877-453-2721, or visit LDOE’s Web site at www.louisianaschools.net and click on LEAP & GEE Help Center.
• Reassure your child that he or she does not have to answer all the questions correctly to pass. It is not expected that students answer every question correctly.
• Tell your child to attempt to answer all of the questions and not to leave any blanks. There is no penalty for guessing, and students can get partial credit on the open-ended items.
• Remind your child that the test is important.
• Explain to your child the importance of using time wisely. If your child gets stuck on a question, encourage him or her to make the best guess or place a mark in the test booklet by that item and go back to it after finishing that section of the test.
• Make certain your child gets a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast before taking the test.
• Try to make the morning of the test a pleasant one. Do not add to your child’s stress.
• Get your child to school on time the day of the test.
• Remind your child to listen carefully to the instructions from the teacher and to read the directions and each question carefully.
• Encourage your child to stay focused on the test, even if other students finish early.
• Remind your child that it is okay to mark in the test booklet as a help in taking the test – i.e., underlining important words – but to mark all answers on the answer sheet.