School Implements STAR Test Prep Sessions

On particular days before the STAR test, classes met to discuss test taking strategies during tutorial period. This test prep period was planned to help students gear up for the exam and understand its relevance.
“The most important piece is to make sure we understand why it’s important,” Principal Wynne Satterwhite said.
The administration has taken this action in order to encourage students to take the test seriously.
In an effort to improve school ranking, students have been assigned a 35-minute period dedicated to giving administrative feedback and reviewing test taking strategies.
During these periods, students stay with their third period classes and review skills to help them succeed on the test. The first period was held on Friday, February 6. The session focused on the test itself, leaving the following periods for test taking tips.
The purpose of this period is to improve the school’s overall Academic Performance Index (API) score by providing students with some amount of direction in test preparation.
“[The test] is really an assessment, and we want to help students be better prepared for it,” Satterwhite said.
The school’s API score for 2008 was 795.
“[Test prep] results in an increase in API scores, as we have seen in previous years,” Satterwhite said.
All other meetings during the designated test prep periods are regarded as subordinate to these administration-driven sessions.
During the first session, students brainstormed ways to improve scores.
The school incorporates test prep periods into the curriculum every other year. Sessions may be integrated into the schedule on a yearly basis in the future.
Although Satterwhite said that third period test prep has raised scores in the past, some students felt that this effort had little significant impact.
“I think the administration had good intentions,” sophomore Paul Fomenko said. “But it wasn’t effective enough to make a difference in our API scores.”
Senior classes are exempt from test prep but must work in their third period classrooms. If classes include students from several grades, the entire class must follow the lesson.
This was unclear to many students.
“I’m honestly not sure what the administration expects seniors to be doing,” senior Molly McShane said. “I feel like the best use of that time would be to give us back our tutorial period to use in whatever way best suits our learning styles.”
The decision to make these changes was devised by Satterwhite and Assistant Principal Ralph Cave. The decision was proposed to the school’s Leadership Team, who approved the idea and made the final arrangements.
“I don’t think people feel it is important to them, [but it affects everyone],” Satterwhite said.