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E. Russell Hicks takes MSA tests seriously

April 07, 2008|By JANET HEIM

The first day of Maryland School Assessment testing might have fallen on April Fools' Day, but there was no fooling around for students at E. Russell Hicks Middle School.

Every student and staff member had signed a card - students promising to do their best on testing and staff pledging to encourage student success on the MSAs.

The testing on April 1 and 2 was math testing, with English Language Arts and reading testing to come this week.

According to the Maryland State Department of Education Web site, the MSA is a test of reading and math achievement that meets the testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The reading and math tests are administered annually to students in grades three through eight.

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"I'm pretty confident. I don't like them, but if I have to take them, I will," said seventh-grader Andrew Young of MSA tests.

He said the first day of math testing was easy, but long. Andrew said he finished early, but went back and checked his answers just to be sure.

"I like math. I'm not really excited about the ELA one next week," Andrew said.

Seventh-grader Corey Reasner said the math test was easy and he felt well- prepared. He finished early and went back to check his answers, only to discover he had forgotten to answer a question, which he did the second time around.

With one day of testing behind them, students blow off some steam with classmates at lunch, then have an afternoon of classroom instruction. The reward comes on Friday, April 11, when a rotating schedule of activities is planned in the afternoon.

Seventh-grade math teachers Mark Lysiak and Chris Cline head up the National Network of Partnership of Schools team at the school - Lysiak as coordinator and Cline as assistant. Their role is to foster business partnerships between the school and community, while encouraging parent involvement and creating a positive learning climate for students.

Through those business partnerships, Lysiak and Cline have arranged for the 2008 MSA Test Student Performance Rewards at E. Russell Hicks. Students can look forward to a dance with a deejay, a talent show and an ice cream social.

Cici's and Domino's are providing pizzas, the deejay is working for a reduced fee and Good Humor will provide the ice cream, Lysiak said. He added that Food Lion on Eastern Boulevard provided doughnuts and orange juice for teachers for the first day of testing.

Lysiak said that with the downturn in the economy, it's harder to get businesses to participate in the partnership program.

An added element this year, coordinated through NNPS, was tutoring provided by Hagers-town Community College students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to help students prepare for the MSAs.

"It's going well. It's a work in progress. We started from the ground two years ago," Cline said of the partnership program.

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