Behind The Test

The frenzy of standardized test season has mostly passed for schools and students. Louisiana children took their state LEAP and iLEAP tests in April. Now they await their scores, due near the end of the academic year. By many accounts the weeks leading up to those tests are the most stressful of the academic year.

WWNO set out to report on the intensity of schools during test time, and quickly hit upon a labyrinth of practices, rules and thinking that makes testing a world unto itself — an impenetrable world during test week.

As the school year comes to an end, our series "Behind the Test" explores some of the systems, practices and regulations that surround standardized testing and impact the results. That includes test security, verifying scores, emotions surrounding the tests, and the value of data that's led to expanding testing to younger students.

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Education
8:00 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Behind The Test: Louisiana Grapples With How To 'Test' Its Youngest Learners

The babies at New Orleans' Kids of Excellence child care center sit down for meal time.
Credit Sarah Carr / WWNO

As the stakes grow higher for standardized tests, so too does the desire to test more students — including younger and younger ones. WWNO wraps up its series "Behind the Test."

The three-year-olds at Kids of Excellence child care center learn largely through play. Kristi Givens, the center’s director, tries to make sure they are ready for big school by the time they leave.

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Education
8:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Behind The Test: Schools Turn To Social Workers, Relaxation Techniques To Deal With LEAP Test Strain

Kevin and Byroneshia doing a guided imagery activity. LEAP tests put entire schools under enormous stress.
Credit Mallory Falk / WWNO

WWNO continues its series "Behind the Test" with a look at standardized testing through the lens of test anxiety. In the weeks leading up to the LEAP test, teachers do a lot to prepare students: drilling them on crucial skills, giving out practice tests, even holding pep rallies to boost confidence. But what about preparing students to cope with test-related anxiety?

Brittany Healy is leading a small group of fifth graders in a guided imagery activity. They’re sprawled out on a couch and sunken into bean bag chairs. Eyes shut, arms loose at their sides.

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Education
8:50 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Behind The Test: The Rules And Regulations Leading To Reliable LEAP Data

Flickr user midnightpeace_90

WWNO continues its series “Behind the Test” with a look at test security. The paper booklets, and students’ answers inside, can determine things like teacher pay or the very existence of a school. It takes a lot of effort — and people — to keep the testing materials secure through delivery, administering the test, turning them in and then scoring.

The booklets and answer sheets for Louisiana’s LEAP tests come from a company called Data Recognition Corporation in Minnesota. When the Recovery School District's tests arrive they go straight to a warehouse.

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The Lens
7:00 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Behind The Test: Using Test Scores To Grade Teachers

Teachers have a lot riding ontheir students' standardized test scores. Improvement can mean financial rewards. But little or no improvement can lead to a teacher losing their job.
Josh Davis Flickr

Louisiana’s schools have a lot riding on student performance on standardized tests, and the stakes can be even higher for educators.

Louisiana is one of over 20 states around the country that ties teacher evaluations to student performance. Teachers can receive huge financial bonuses if their students do well, and they can lose their jobs if they don't.

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Education
1:18 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Behind The Test: Training Teachers To Give High-Stakes Tests

Reducing administrative errors means instructing teachers on how to administer high-stakes tests.
Blue Square Thing Flickr

School is winding up for the year, and students have the state LEAP test behind them. That’s the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, the standardized test used to measure students’ skills — and, increasingly, to size up teachers and schools as a whole.

This week, as schools await their results, WWNO explores the world of LEAP beyond the test itself, in our "Behind The Test" series. We look behind-the-scenes at test security, emotions around testing, and the growing influence of tests.

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