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Crowell readies to rock the test
Crowell pic1
Students at Crowell Elementary in Turlock participate in a CST pep rally on Thursday afternoon in preparation for this years week of testing, scheduled to start the Tuesday after spring break. Students and teachers made signs, played games and danced to get pumped up. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

A loud and raucous gathering of Crowell Elementary students could be heard screaming on Thursday — all because of a test.

It’s not every day hundreds of elementary students are excited for a test — especially one that doesn’t even count toward their grades — the California Standardized Test. But at Crowell the message was clear; the CST is a measure of accountability for not only the teachers but for the students as well.

The CSTs measure students' progress toward achieving California's state-adopted academic content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social science. Despite its importance in evaluating what students are learning and retaining each year in local schools, students have little stake in the bubble sheets they must fill out each April.

To help the students get mentally-prepared for the annual test, many schools —including Crowell — hold pep rallies.

 “They prepare for this test a lot of times and this rally is just to encourage them to do their personal best and use test-taking strategies,” said Staci Isaac, a third grade teacher at Crowell.

The results of April’s California Standards Tests factor largely into a school’s Academic Performance Index, or API, which is essentially the overall standard or “grade” schools are measured by.

Last year Crowell scored a 736 API, and since the 2008-09 school year, the school has improved a substantial 31 points. Generally, schools strive to reach 800 to be considered “succeeding.” The state average is 778.