Teachers want an ‘A’

Raising the bar has become the main objective of Philadelphia public schools, especially in the area of standardized testing.

Testing, which began March 22 and lasts through April 20, assesses students’ abilities against those in other school districts throughout the state. The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and TerraNova tests also will help determine how well the district’s reform program is working.

To inspire students, schools citywide like E.M. Stanton Elementary, 17th and Christian, have encouraged special activities.

For example, a group of students formed the "Speak Out Team: Leaders of the Next Generation," with the motto, "Smart is cool at Stanton School."

The Speak Out Team performed various skits and poem recitations during their day of motivation and "rocking the house."

Stanton fifth-grade teacher Marquitia Brewington believes recent initiatives like the federal No Child Left Behind law and a renewed focus on testing have had an impact on student performance.

"My students’ knowledge about the history of inadequate scores on standardized tests at Stanton has driven them to work harder than they’ve ever worked before to break the chains of inadequacies," she said.

Alcorn Elementary, 32nd and Dickinson streets, also sponsored activities to motivate students. The school hosted a family fun night, skits, games and a parent workshop in preparation for the standardized tests.

Brewington has faith that when the scores are tabulated, her students will have made the grade.

"I teach brilliant students in my fifth-grade class, and I believe they will show how much they’ve progressed when they take the standardized tests this year," she said.