Writing test on tap this week

Published 8:41 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Anna Green

Students in Pike County schools will be taking the annual Alabama Direct Assessment of Writing on Thursday morning.

The test will measure grades 5, 7 and 10 on their ability to write in descriptive, narrative, expository and persuasive modes of discourse. The persuasive version of the test will only be given to grades 7 and 10.

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Sarah Gambles, a fifth grade teacher at Banks Elementary School, said that the students will not know what form of the test they will get until they receive it that morning.

“The students are required to respond to a surprise prompt that is given to them that morning,” Gambles said. “They know that they are having the test, they just don’t know what kind of writing will be required.”

Gambles and Nikki Johnson, a colleague of Gambles, went to Pike County Central Office this past year to work on developing a writing plan for grades K-5.

“We were asked to make a writing plan for other schools, because other schools were taking note of the fact that Banks was doing so well with the test,” Gambles said.

“Banks literally went from being in the 60 percentile to the 90 percentile in one year on the writing assessment.”

Gambles and Johnson developed a plan that included teacher outlines, templates and graphic organizers for the kids, a pacing guide for teachers and grading scales so that parents could see their child’s progression.

“The grading scale is very important for parents, because parents need to have a reason to know why their child is or is not succeeding,” Gambles said.

“Parents want to help, but they don’t always know how. With this, then parents can see exactly what their child is doing wrong, and they can help them.”

Gambles advises parents to make sure that children stick to their normal morning routine on the morning of the test.

“If your child is used to taking a regular medication in the mornings, please make sure that your child takes it along with a healthy breakfast,” Gambles said.

“Not taking a medication that a child is used to taking can really have an affect on their testing ability.”

Gambles also asks that parents show their children a little extra support before they go to school.

“We ask that parents encourage their children. If kids know that parents are aware of what is going on, then the students will strive harder to please them, too.”

The test will be given at 8:15 Thursday morning, and there will be no makeup for the test. Gambles asks that all students to please be sure to attend.