News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 10, 2014

ISTEP+ testing begins today in Indiana

Wilson principal rallies students to emphasize ‘importance’ of test

TERRE HAUTE — The student body of Woodrow Wilson Middle School issued a collective battle cry on Monday as it began a week of standardized testing.

Principal Susan Mardis – wearing camouflage fatigues and a boot camp T-shirt – led students and faculty in cadence cheers after they gathered Monday morning in the school auditorium.

“The purpose of the program is to get the students focused on ISTEP Plus,” Mardis said. “We want the students to feel and see the importance of ISTEP Plus, take charge of it, and not fear it! Push through, show what they know, and own it! This type of program gives them confidence. Also, camouflage is very much in style now, so the middle schoolers love wearing camo.”

Mardis, in her first year at Wilson, conducted a similar program to prepare for the week of testing when she was principal at Deming Elementary. The Woodrow Wilson program is tailored more for students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and includes technology with photos projected on the walls and music.

“We did not have the students march in as we did in elementary school,” Mardis said. “Also, we did not do calisthenics with our middle schoolers as we did with the elementary students. In the elementary school, we had the assembly every day. At Wilson, since we have 954 students, we decided to do one day of kick off.  The rest of the days will be over the Channel One station [on TV].”

Each grade level at the school conducted a boot camp for students, and the intervention and enrichment times have been focused on improving student confidence for the test.

“We are expecting great things from our students, and we want them to know how important instruction is to academic growth,” Mardis said.

She noted that the teachers have been enthusiastic in their support of the program, and she has heard positive feedback from the students who appreciate the extra focus before the tests.

Standing with the sixth-graders during the assembly, students Addie Waltz and Kassi Rapier-Ward said they are feeling more confident about ISTEP this year.

“I was really bad at math,” Rapier-Ward said, “but we did extra work, and it really helped. Our teacher explained it further.”

Waltz said she appreciated having extra help in the mornings before school starts to go over the test subjects.

“In social studies, our teacher tells us about the topics like it’s a story, and that makes it easier to follow,” Waltz said.

Classroom walls had been plastered with formulas and word lists and other “helps” that the students were encouraged to study. All of that came down on Monday, however, because testing starts today.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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