BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi schools are in the middle of a testing transition. Next school year, Common Core will fully kick-in in all Mississippi classrooms. School districts have been phasing-in the new standards. So while students are learning Common Core, they also have to prepare for their final MCT-2 next week.
This week, Jeff Davis Elementary fourth graders are taking practice tests and teaching each other. The intense study sessions will help them master skills and prepare them for the important state assessments next week.
"We're really pushing and pushing them to get them up to at least proficient, hopefully advanced," said Language Arts Teacher Sheba Brown.
The test preparation is more critical this year. That's because the Biloxi School District has already fully implemented the new Common Core state standards, but the test students will be taking is the MCT-2. The challenge for teachers is to help their students understand the different test format.
"MCT-2 is multiple choice. It's A, B, C or D. I choose one answer, and I move on. Common Core, they have to think about it. They have to understand deeply: 'What am I doing? Why did I do this,'" said Sandra Higgins. "Common Core is more of open-ended. Not only do they have to know how to work the procedure, they have to understand the concept behind it."
Higgins is an Instructional Math Coach. Her job is to work with new teachers who have never given an MCT-2 to students before.
"They feel comfortable. There are some skills that were not taught with Common Core, so the teachers are having to go back and fill in those gaps," said Higgins. "I've heard teachers say that their students have said, 'Oh my goodness, this is baby stuff.'"
"We have three practice state tests. They took those and said, 'This is so easy'. It was all multiple-choice. They're going to rock it," said Brown.
"Our job as educators is to prepare children globally whether they live in Mississippi, whether they live in Germany, California, New York. In doing that, we are teaching many, many different skills. We're not just teaching MCT-2, we're not just teaching Common Core."
The Reading, Language, and Math MCT-2 will be given out next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. With Common Core, students will be taking the PARCC assessment next spring. It will be called MCT-3.