TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – As Katherine Riley helps her fifth grad students with math problems, reminders are all around her class at Tupelo’s Lawhon Elementary, that the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition, or MCT 2, is coming up.
“It’s very important, it shows whether or not our students have learned what they are supposed to have learned,” Riley said.
The MCT 2 measures student achievement in Language Arts and Mathematics in grades 3 through 8. Fifth graders also take a science test. The test provides the benchmark for state accountability in the grade levels tested and it is also designed to meet the federal testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Riley says regular classroom activities prepare students for the annual test. And teachers must balance test-taking skills with actually getting students to think for themselves.
“We spend a lot of time trying to teach strategies on how to answer test questions but we also make hands on experiences a really big part. I feel that if the students can do well with hands on experiences, that they should be able to answer those test questions,” she said.
Lawhon Principal Corlis Curry says teachers have been preparing for the MCT 2 all school year.
“We make sure instruction is rigorous, we make sure students are being challenged in classrooms, also we do a lot of small group teaching, where teachers are able to pinpoint strong areas in each student and weaknesses and build on those,” Curry said.
Schools use a variety of methods to improve learning. And most use regular practice tests and assessments to gauge how individual students and whole classrooms are coming along. That helps tailor specific strategies. And at Lawhon, friendly competition doesn’t hurt.
“We try to keep kids motivated, one way we do that is by a baseball competition, through 5th grade, we are Texas Rangers, if students answer questions correctly, they get to move around the bases and get prizes,” Riley pointed out.
It’s all part of a strategy encouraging students to excel.
“We want to keep our students moving forward,” Curry said.
Testing is less than a month away, Teachers and administrators believe the MCT 2 provides a good indicator of how students are doing in a particular subject they say it also helps ensure students are ready for the next grade level.