RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. - Fun and fresh are the top answers for how Russellville schools prepare for the MAP test.
The efforts of counselor Cherri Williams and the elementary and middle school teachers have paid off. School scores have improved and are among the top in the Show-Me Conference.
Friends from "Duck Dynasty" helped kick off the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) testing season Thursday after 72 percent of the fourth- and fifth-graders who tested last year were honored with medals either for placing proficient or advanced on the test or improving their score from the previous year.
"Anything to reduce stress for students and teachers, but increase student motivation is priceless," said fourth-grade teacher Cindy Wieberg.
Larissa Mehmert and Andrea Hill, who prepared the skit based on the popular television show, benefited this year from a first-time Russellville Schools Foundation grant.
"This can be a tedious test for the students, and we want them to know that we really appreciate all of the efforts they do while preparing and taking the MAP test," said Hill, a fifth-grade teacher. "This is something that all of the teachers feel is beneficial to helping our students succeed with the MAP test."
The students enjoyed the ZZ Top tune "Sharp Dressed Man" with new lyrics full of MAP testing tips.
Kindergarten through second-grade students also joined the test-takers in third- through fifth-grades for the assembly.
At the end of the elementary assembly, the younger grades formed a "victory lane" to high-five the older students on their way to cookies, ice cream and more words of encouragement about the test.
Later, the younger students will write encouraging notes for the middle schoolers.
This gives something for the younger students to anticipate and for the older students, they can recall when they were doing the things they now are receiving.
Instead of medals and cookies, middle school students Thursday afternoon went on a scavenger hunt leading to their own testing advice and root beer floats.
"It's all positive thoughts about the MAP," Williams said.
While the students enjoyed their special treats, their peers were invited to share testing advice.
The common sense tips included don't be scared, try your best, have fun, take your time, concentrate and get plenty of sleep.
Williams also organizes the testing so students only test in the mornings over a three-week period. And they are equipped with "I "can's'" filled with all the essentials a student needs to remain at his desk - a water bottle, facial tissues, sharpened pencils and erasers.
"The kids think it's cool - "I have my supplies, and I'm ready to test,'" Williams said.
Teachers may have a similar response when the results of this spring's MAP testing return just before school resumes in August.
They will have data on each student, which will guide their preparations for a new school year. Each class is different, meaning different strengths and weaknesses the curriculum must be tailored to, teachers agreed.
"The upper elementary grades use MAP data to group students into What I Need (W.I.N.) groups," Wieberg said. "It gives a small snapshot of how a student performed in the areas of communication arts and math."