Math MCAS tests to be given this week

ANNA M. and VICTORIA H.

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As you may know, MCAS stands for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. As you may also know, the math MCAS are here in the Watertown Public Schools this week. English Language MCAS were taken in March and April.

Teachers have been preparing students for this a long time. With ELA, teachers usually prepare their students by using the color coding system. Pink is the topic sentence and conclusion; green and blue is example and explanation; and Orange are for transitional words.

This method is used in all grades so that the students do well on the open response questions. Another method teachers use is called Tarzan Talk, in which students have to read a paragraph and use simple words to explain what was going on, like Tarzan would!

Seventh-grade teachers also gave their students prompts to prepare them students for the long composition test. Watertown Middle School Assistant principal Jason Del Porto said, “The best advice I can give students is have a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and come to school on time!”

Mr. Del Porto said he hates seeing kids come in late on MCAS days and have to do the make-up session instead. Claire Regan, a sixth-grade reading teacher said, “I was really proud of all my students [in March]. We had more A’s and P’s then NI’s and W’s.”

Seventh-grade math teacher Phil Oates says not to leave anything blank.

Students don’t see MCAS exactly the same way as teachers. A seventh-grader in Cluster 4 said, “I’m a little bit nervous and don’t like to take the MCAS. It gets boring.”

Students of all grades at Watertown Middle School take the ELA and math MCAS. Eighth-graders have science MCAS. Here are the dates:

* Math: eighth grade, May 10-11; seventh grade, May 12-13; and sixth grade, May 14 and 17.

* Science: eighth grade, May 18-19.

Principal Kimo Carter says our school has a history of doing well, and we improve gradually every year.

“If we teach well throughout the year, we do fine on MCAS,” he said.

Teachers and principals all have very much the same advice: get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and come to school. If you are a little sick, you should come — but if you are really sick, it’s OK to stay home.

All teachers interviewed for this story thought the students did their best last year, and hope to see it again. Mr. Carter says the school is doing good, but can do better.

–May 9, 2010–

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Math MCAS tests to be given this week