Education feature: Educators urge students to relax before exams

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Ginny Swann’s fifth-grade class spends time Wednesday on test preparation worksheets. Testing begins April 6.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Clovis educators are urging students to relax over spring break before they dive right into the New Mexico Standards Based Assessments when they return.

The tests are given to third through eighth grades and juniors.

High school juniors begin testing March 31 while middle and elementary school students begin April 6.

Shelly Norris, principal of the Arts Academy at Bella Vista, said it is important for the students to take the time to have fun over spring break.

“It’s more about what they’ve been doing throughout the school year,” she said. “Preparation for this begins on the first day.”

The testing period was pushed back three and a half weeks this year, making Clovis’ spring break, which starts Monday, fall before testing. Norris said she was anxious about the change.

“Testing has never been after spring break,” she said. “There’s that sandwich of time between spring break and summer where the kids are really excited. But we hope they’re not so excited that they can’t focus.”

The district is planning to move spring break for the 2009-2010 school year.

This year, the New Mexico Department of Education instituted a no-cell phone policy during testing. Bob Pullings, counselor at Marshall Middle School, said the temptation for students to utilize their cell phones to cheat is too great.

“It’s just not what we’re focusing on during testing,” he said. “We want it out of sight, out of mind.”

Cell phones will be collected from students in all grades during testing and returned to them after testing is completed each day.

Pullings said it’s important for students to concentrate on double checking their work and using common sense.

“They just need to focus, take their time and not second-guess themselves,” he said. “Your brain knows more than you think it does.”

Pam Cornelison, head counselor at Clovis High School, said the tests are important, but some students get too tense.

“They need to relax and work with confidence,” she said. “You can’t cram for this test. At this point, what they know is what they know.”

Educators at each level stressed the importance of getting a good nights sleep and eating breakfast each day before testing.

Testing schedule:

High school juniors

March 31-April 2, April 7-9

Middle school

April 6-9, April 14-15

Elementary school

April 6-9, April 14-17