Games help students relax before CSAP testing |

Games help students relax before CSAP testing

— In a surprise move, President George W. Bush delivered inspiring words of encouragement to Steamboat Springs Middle School students Thursday as they prepared for day three of Colorado Student Assessment Program testing.

Actually, middle school Principal Tim Bishop dubbed his voice over a videotaped Bush news conference. The students didn’t buy the fake presidential address, but that wasn’t the point.

Bishop and his middle school staff are using a variety of games and activities to help prepare and relax students, as well as add some fun to CSAP testing.

“We’re trying different things that we haven’t tried before to see if it’s successful,” Bishop said. “It makes it a little more of an enjoyable atmosphere for our kids.”

Bishop has even talked to principals from other high-ranking schools around the state to see what they do for their students around CSAP time.

“Everyone does something different,” Bishop said.

Since Tuesday, the school’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders have been treated to free school breakfasts, been eligible for small prizes and subjected to Bishop’s and assistant principal Jerry Buelter’s humorous attempts to be, well, humorous.

The school’s extra effort is specifically intended to help motivate and relax students who dread testing, Bishop said.

“It’s something for them to look forward to,” he said. “We always do something funny and we usually give away some prizes.”

Similar efforts are being made in individual classrooms.

Heidi Chapman’s sixth-grade class returned from their morning breakfast and prize giveaway to relax to African music and brain games.

Chapman’s students played games like Bop It, Pick-Up Sticks, jacks and assorted playing card games.

“We try to get things where they’re using both sides of the brain,” Chapman said.

The games and relaxed atmosphere help, sixth-grader Miriam Pensack said.

“It kind of gets you thinking so when you take the CSAPs your brain is working,” Pensack said. “Also, they’re fun, so you’re in a good mood before you take the CSAPs. I think it helps a lot.”

Sixth-grader Amber Sachs played a card game with her friends before testing began at 9 a.m.

“It’s fun just to calm down,” she said.

A new testing schedule that coordinates testing times among all three grades has also been implemented this year.

“It’s been a good schedule in terms of getting everyone on the same page,” Chapman said. “The halls are very quiet during testing time.”

Additionally, extracurricular activities help students relax before testing, she said.

“I think this year it’s been good because we’ve had the ‘Annie’ production and lots of other extracurricular activities going on,” Chapman said. “We’re preparing for (CSAPs), but it’s not the only thing we’re thinking about.”

State law mandates CSAP testing for public schools as part of an effort to hold schools accountable for student achievement.

Once CSAP results are calculated, public schools are ranked based on their scores, and a School Accountability Report, or school report card, is issued to each school.

Last year, the middle school’s academic performance was rated as “high.” The “high” rating is one step down from “excellent,” the top rating a school can achieve.

While Bishop and his middle school staff would love their students to earn an “excellent” rating this year, strong effort is all Bishop can ask of his students.

“If a kid does his or her best, that’s good enough for me,” Bishop said.

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