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Students get a jump on functional tests

August 02, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

CLEAR SPRING - While darkness fell on most classrooms this summer, it was full speed ahead at Clear Spring Middle School.

Students took on a full load of courses in math, social studies, language arts and science, with some technology thrown in.

The kids were able to sketch a plan for a house and build part of it. Following that exercise, they were able to try their hand at designing a house with a computer, teachers said.

"It's really my first time learning to do something like that," said Todd McCall, who will be heading to Clear Spring High School this fall.

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The Super Start program began two years ago for middle-school students who were having trouble passing the state's functional tests, said Earl Meagher, a counselor at Clear Spring Middle. Students start taking the functional tests in middle school, and can continue taking them through high school if they are having trouble passing them, said Meagher.

Students in Super Start this year received special help like one-on-one instruction in math. People from the community, as well as students from Clear Spring High, volunteered to work with students on math.

"Some of them just need the extra touch to be successful in the next grade. It's just like a big ball game. We're going to get ready for it," said Meagher, referring to the functional test.

To determine how well they did in Super Start, students are given the functional tests after they complete the 23-day program, which concluded Friday.

Last year, students did well on the government test, but the scores in math and reading were not what teachers wanted, said Meagher. Functional test results from this year's Super Start are not available yet.

Five teachers help run the program, which is funded with a $5,000 grant from the Washington County Board of Education.

Teachers identify which students could benefit from Super Start, said Meagher. Clear Spring Middle officials also visit the three schools that feed into the school to determine which sixth-graders could benefit, said Meagher.

School officials then contact the parents of the students and ask them if they want their children to attend.

About 65 students were in this year's class and about 55 were in last year's, said Meagher.

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