Use break to prepare for SAT

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2003

Two weeks of freedom from the confinement of a desk and the walls of a classroom will end like a slap in the face when Troy City and Pike County students take their seats once again for the Stanford Achievement Test 10 the week after break.

Not to be confused with the Scholarship Aptitude Test high school seniors take, the SAT 10 is part of President George Bush's &uot;No Child Left Behind&uot; program.

The legislation requires school systems to assess their students' abilities in comparison to the rest of the nation.

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&uot;The testing is used to assess children from grades three through eight,&uot; Troy City Schools assistant superintendent Toni Stetson said. &uot;Alabama already had testing for that.&uot;

According to Stetson, there are two kinds of tests based on norm and criteria.

Criteria testing measures a student's competence based on set academic criteria.

Norm testing is comparative and shows how well students do in relationship to their peers.

The SAT 10 is normative.

The SAT 10 measures reading, math, vocabulary, math, problem solving, science and language.

Each subject test is timed.

Stetson said the test is spread out over three or four days and students are tested on one or two subjects each day.

&uot;The elementary school takes four days, one hour each morning,&uot; she said.

&uot;The middle school usually takes three days.&uot;

The results are given in the State Board of Education School Report Card, which is issued every year for all of Alabama's schools.

The report shows results for all students, general education, special education, blacks, Hispanics, whites, children of free lunch and children on fully paid lunch.

The national average is set at 50.

If schools score below 50 in any of those given areas, it means they are below the national average.

If they score above or at 50, they are average or above average.

The results are also divided by grades.

The data shows the percent of students in that school tested, what percentile they are in and gives them a letter grade.

'A' is excellent, 'B' is good, 'C' is average, 'D' is poor and 'F' is failing.

Since the same thing is done nationwide, educators can use this information to compare their academic excellence with other schools.

Based on last year's SAT 10 results, Pike County Elementary's score was C+, Troy Elementary's was B and Banks School's was C.

Students are prepared for the test all year.

In fact, Troy Elementary Principal Geoffrey Spann used the school's Black History Month program the end of February to talk about the test.

He said high scores mean he and his teachers are doing their jobs.

&uot;If we don't do well on this test, then that means that we're not doing our part,&uot; he said.

He told the kids to compare it to softball or baseball.

The athletes don't practice just to practice; they practice so they can play in a game.

&uot;Think of this as your game,&uot; he said.

&uot;You've practiced all year and now you have to play.

This is your most important game.&uot;

Although the tests may educators an idea of where their school ranks in the nation, it does not necessarily tell how intelligent their students are.

&uot;It serves a purpose in allowing teachers and students to see what students are doing, but it doesn't necessarily test what the child is learning,&uot; Troy City Schools superintendent Hank Jones said.

&uot;They are not, by themselves, a good measure.&uot;