Ninth graders pass standards test with flying colors

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 06/03/97.

Paynesville ninth graders passed the written composition test with flying colors this spring. The test will be part of the required graduation standards in the 1998-99 school year.

ďWe gave our ninth grades the test to see how they would fare,Ē Danith Clausen, curriculum coordinator, said. The Paynesville students scored 83 percent on the test.

ďWe feel the test is a good indicator as to how our students are doing. We want to be proactive as much as we can so we have our curriculum lined up before the test is mandatory,Ē Clausen said.

Michelle Anderson, ninth grade teacher, thought the scores were awesome. ďI was pleasantly surprised with the scores. We have been spending a lot of time working on writing paragraphs, character construction, and essays,Ē she said. Anderson teaches four sections of English.

Deb Ficek, another ninth grade English teacher, said she was pleased with the test results. ďThe atmosphere of the testing room was not prime for a test, but students rose to the challenge. All the students were tested, the special needs students along with the regular classroom students. They all did very well,Ē she added.

The basic standard test of written composition is a large scale assessment given in a secure testing environment. It is intended to measure the writing skills a student demonstrates at a given point in time.

This yearís eighth graders will be the first class required to take the test as 10th graders.

All the students were asked to write a composition based on the following direction: ďYour teacher has asked you to write about one person you would choose to be if you could be someone else for one day. Name that person and give specific reasons why you would like to be that person for one day. Give enough details so your teacher will understand your ideas.Ē

The students were each graded on a one to four scale, anything three or better is passing. One hundred and sixteen Paynesville ninth graders took the test with 96 scoring a three or better.

ďI donít know how accurate the test results are as the students knew the test didnít count this year. However, I was pleased with their attitude and the test results,Ē Clausen said. Since the test scores donít count, Clausen received the compositions back so the districtís curriculum can be adjusted to meet the needs of the students.

Clausen explained the people scoring the tests are professional scorers. They check the compositions for clarity of central idea; coherent focus, organization, detail support or elaboration of ideas, and language conventions.

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