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After-school club helps prep students for MSA

February 23, 2009|By JANET HEIM

BOONSBORO - It's Wednesday afternoon, the bell rings at the end of the school day and most students at Boonsboro Elementary School are headed home. Thirty-five students, though, will spend an additional 90 minutes at school.

The Boonsboro Elementary MSA Prep Club is under way. MSA, short for Maryland School Assessment, is a test of reading, math and science achievement and meets the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Reading and math skills are tested in grades three, four and five. Fifth-graders are also tested on science.

Select students in those grades at Boonsboro Elementary in need of "an extra boost" are invited to be part of the extended learning club, said Principal J. Scott Woods.

After a 15-minute snack break, students divide into groups of four to six students for two 30-minute enrichment sessions in reading/writing and math. The club ends with recreation time in the gym, all designed to make the club fun.

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Woods said this is the third year the prep club has been offered at the school. Parents are asked to commit to the 14-week program and provide transportation after the club ends at 4 p.m.

Rockland Woods Elementary also has a MSA Prep Club and most other elementary schools provide extended learning opportunities as well, Woods said.

Woods said performance data is used to determine which skills students need help in, allowing teachers to target the extra support the students receive.

Eight teachers commit to helping with the program and those who do enjoy working with the small groups. They are paid for their time with extended learning funding, Woods said.

"One measurement is how do these students do on the MSA. We've tracked the data. It's very encouraging," Woods said.

At a recent club session, teacher Julie Rowe was working with students on improving their reading comprehension by sequencing the events of the story they had just read. The goal was that this strategy would allow them to retell the story in the brief constructed response (BCR) they would be required to write for the test.

"I would do this all day if I could. It's so effective working with small groups," Rowe said.

Third-grader Bradee Moore agrees. He said he needs more help with reading, that he's pretty good at math.

"It has been helping me a lot. She's teaching us to read smoothly and understand what we read," Bradee said.

His mother, Marleen Moore, said that between the MSA Prep Club and extra help at home, Bradee's classroom teacher has seen great improvement in his work.

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