Every year, students across the state take the CRCT to see how much they have learned throughout the year and to report for the No Child Left Behind Act how well schools are educating students.
Effingham County students will begin taking the test on Monday.
Springfield Elementary has taken a different approach to help prepare students for the upcoming test.
Fourth grade teacher Barbara D’Angelo began using the “Rocky” theme to motivate her students for timed math tests.
“It started with the second math challenge here at school where the kids have to take a timed multiplication test — they have to do three a year,” she said.
She said the students didn’t do as well as she had hoped on the first test, and “all of a sudden it popped into my head” to use the “Rocky” theme.
That song (Bill Conti’s ‘Gonna Fly Now’) is really very motivating,” she said. “A lot of kids already knew the movie of ‘Rocky’ so they were able to associate that right away,” D’Angelo said. “Every time we used to take a math challenge, we would play that song first.”
She said her class made “Knocking out 90” T-shirts as the theme for the 90-problem math challenge.
“We had a huge improvement on the multiplication challenge,” she said. “I said to (Principal) Ms. (Terri) Johnson, ‘it really motivated my class, why don’t we see if we can get the whole school fired up for the CRCT,’ and it just grew from there.”
Her students have contributed motivational ideas while the school has worked to prepare for the CRCT.
“I knew it was a boxing theme, and I said we can’t have a boxing theme without a boxing ring. I have two wonderful families in my class and the dads came and built that ring,” she said.
Some of the mothers and students came to help her decorate.
“If I didn’t have such a wonderful class, I don’t know how much of it I could have accomplished because I’ll say something, but then they’ll come up with ideas to make it more spectacular,” D’Angelo said.
She said there was an assembly, and she was amazed when even the kindergarten students were yelling, “Rocky, Rocky.”
“It’s been great I think, and it’s the kids,” she said. “We had a ‘Rocky Run’ last week where we played the music, and the kids ran around the school. We have to train because Rocky trained.
“I have a great administration that allowed me to do it,” she said, adding her thanks for support from assistant principal Harriett Snooks.
D’Angelo said there have been many teachers who have helped during the process.
“We’re hoping it gets kids to at least try on the test, as opposed to just bubbling in an answer,” she said. “We’re hoping it will get them a little more focused, or have a better attitude plus add some fun to it. Obviously the ultimate goal is to have the whole school pass.”
She said it’s been a lot of work, and there has been at least one activity a week during the last month to get the students motivated.
“We’re doing the very same things everybody else is doing. We’re doing the review questions for the CRCT, but my class, they’ve been fired up since that second math challenge, and I think that’s what’s going to keep them going.”
She said her class has been a central part of the process.
“They’re the ones involved in the assembly,” D’Angelo said. “They’re the ones coming up with the ideas. I think that because they are completely involved in it that they are motivated. I think that’s going to carry over onto the test as well.”
D’Angelo has been teaching for 11 years, and this is her first year teaching in Effingham. She said she didn’t think she could have done the same thing where she has taught at previously.
“This is a very family-oriented type of school,” she said. “With that type of support, you can do something like this because it took all spring break to put together that boxing ring and decorations around the school, and theme preparation activities. The principals were up here, the families were up here.
“It’s a true family school here,” she said.
Johnson said she was excited when D’Angelo came to her with the idea.
“We have been looking for a way to get the kids motivated about the test,” Johnson said. “Many times they see the test as, ‘oh no, another test,’ because we do quite a bit of assessments throughout the year, and we wanted to find something to separate this test from the others to give them that extra motivation and drive for it.”
Johnson said the students seem to be looking forward to the test and are excited about showing what they have learned during the year.
“They are also excited about the extra incentive,” she said. “They are looking forward to seeing me with my hair dyed different colors,and Ms. Snooks with her hair dyed different colors.”
The students will vote on what color the administrators will dye their hair.
“I think the kindergarteners are even excited about it,” Johnson said. “They don’t take the CRCT, but you see them in the hallways giving the little eye of the tiger, and motivating the older kids. It’s turned it into more of a total school effort, and I think it brought the kids together. It increased their sense of teamwork and motivation and encouraging each other.”
Johnson said when D’Angelo came to the school she knew of her many ideas and motivation.
“I knew many of her goals for our students. I knew she was a ball of energy, so it didn’t surprise me that she would come up with something like this,” Johnson said. “I could tell that she was ready to jump in, and do what she could to motivate.”
Johnson said there has been a lot of parent involvement.
“I think it was a total school effort,” she said. “The students know it’s a very important test. They know how well they want to do and how well our school wants to do. I think it’s made every child realize ‘I need to do my part and be a part of this team for the whole school’s success.’”
She said she would be giving motivational talks to the classes but would keep the week of the CRCT test a calm week to allow the students to focus. There will be a celebration after testing is complete.