The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, is a series of tests designed to assess true student understanding of the materials they have learned in school. It is a grueling week for teachers and students alike, and schools all over the state are participating in the tests this week.
Warren County school educators, administration and staff all go the extra mile to ensure comfort for their students, and West Elementary School is no exception. Teachers and pupils both have been celebrated this week at the elementary school for their hard work, dedication and preparation. For the teachers and staff, a sunshine cart was set up in the lobby that was filled with snacks and drinks to thank everyone for preparing the students for the week of exams.
Teachers gladly reciprocated the appreciation back to the students by wearing test-themed shirts and displaying signs of positivity throughout the classrooms. The support for the children did not stop there, as each teacher had their own method of keeping students on task, focused and motivated to complete the exams.
Megan Sadlon, fifth-grade ELA teacher at West, stated that treats and mints have been a key factor in keeping her students going. “I give all of my students peppermints, and peppermint-flavored gum, because it is supposed to increase focus and attention,” she said. Sadlon mentioned that she also writes encouraging quotes on the board and spent the week before TCAP reviewing. “The Friday before the tests, we had a reward day for them. We had a big concession stand for them because our test-prep week theme was games and sports. They were given tickets throughout the week as they answered questions correctly, so at the concession stand they traded the tickets for popcorn, chips, drinks and our winners got full-sized candy bars.”
Shannon Castle, fourth-grade math and science teacher, said that curbing test anxiety is a primary focus of hers. “I just try to keep their spirits up and make sure that they are relaxed, and I remind them that they are more than a test score.” Castle mentioned that many teachers have worn shirts that say “You Are More Than a Test Score” on it. “Sometimes they get fixated on that, then they get anxious and then they have a hard time testing. So we remind them that this isn’t the end of the world, but it is to help us know what they have learned so far.”
Katie Bussell, a third-grade teacher at West, also shared what she likes to do to keep her students grounded during TCAP. “I give testing treats for motivation,” she said. One day during testing, she gave her students cookies that said “You Are a Smart Cookie,” and granola bars to match the theme of “You Will Totally Rock the Test.” “We also, in the third grade, wrote our kids a motivational letter and left it in an envelope for them before the first day of testing so that they could read it before the test to calm their nerves a little bit. We let their parents write them one too. We always wear our motivational testing shirts too.”
Lastly, Alicia Rodriguez, a teacher’s assistant at West, shared what she has done to motivate the students through the week stating, “I think the biggest thing that we do is try to remind students to try their hardest. At the end it isn’t about the score that they get, it’s about making sure that as long as they know that they have tried their hardest and given their best, we will be content with that.”
The week of TCAP is a stressful one across the state, and practices such as these are important for relieving that stress off of everyone involved. Schools all over the state have their own methods, all equally important in exercising comfort for the hectic week.