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Dixon principals reward students for performance on state MAP tests
DIXON, Mo. (April 16, 2009) — It’s Missouri Assessment Program or MAP testing time, and the Dixon R-I School District has joined many other area schools in providing student incentives for good performance.

Reporting at Thursday night’s school board meeting, Dixon High School principal Jerry Braschler said he was very pleased by the conduct of his top-performing MAP students at a Springfield Cardinals baseball game, followed by a meal at Incredible Pizza in Springfield. That team is a AA-affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, and they played a AA-affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, winning by a score of 8 to 7.

Those who attended were those who scored “advanced” or “proficient” on the MAP test.

“The kids had a blast … one of our boys got a baseball hit to him and he was thrilled about that,” Braschler said. “I think everybody had a great time. We had absolutely no discipline problems or anything; the kids were outstanding and good citizens. Hopefully now that we’re back at school, they’re talking this up and making these other kids that are sitting on the fence will perform a little better so in the future, hopefully, we can do a trip like this again.”

On the opposite side of the academic spectrum, Braschler said students with grades of “D” or “F” have mandatory study hall, and some students are working to get out of the mandatory study hall so they can do other things.

For students who are less interested in college, the Waynesville Technical Academy will soon be offering a cosmetology program and Braschler said several Dixon students are interested.

“They get done with that and they pass their board exams, they will be full-fledged certified cosmetologists,” Braschler said.

Dixon Middle School Principal Jim Brown, who has just been honored as principal of the year by the South Central Missouri Association of Middle School Principals, said all students in his school attended a pizza party and watched videos who tested “proficient” or “advanced” on the most recent MAP test, or who improved their MAP test performance from the previous year.

Coordinating teacher’s instruction with what state tests will measure worked well on this year’s MAP tests that just finished, Brown said.

“Probably the most important thing I heard the whole time was one of my teachers told me that one of the sixth-grade students come up and said, ‘You know what, it’s amazing. Everything that was on the test you showed us what to do,’” Brown said. “For the kids to realize that they’d had everything, we expect great scores from them. The kids are going to do well.”

Dixon Elementary School Principal Joyce Shepherd said a MAP rewards assembly was held with people representing Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana.

“We just finished MAP testing today, we’re glad to have it done and hoping for great scores,” Shepherd said.

Other types of school assemblies have also been held for the elementary students, including a Veterans’ Day assembly for the youngest elementary students that featured school board president Troy Porter, a retired sergeant first class in the Missouri National Guard who was in Vietnam and three years ago was deployed to Iraq.

“For years, all of the schools have done a huge veterans program, but the first-grade teachers, over the last few years, understood that the first-grade really didn’t understand sitting there for two or three hours,” Shepherd said.

Veterans have one-on-one interaction with the youngest students, Shepherd said.

“They share with that student about their experiences, where they’ve been, a lot of them show a map, they do a craft activity and read a book to the students and have a snack,” she said.

Shepherd said she’ll be applying for a grant to cover some of the costs for materials which teachers are currently taking out of their own pockets.

Porter said he appreciated the opportunity to explain what it means to be a veteran, even to very young children who don’t understand that Iraq is mostly desert.

“You talked about how they didn’t quite understand; when I told them where I’ve been and what I’ve done, they wanted to know if I’d seen any sharks,” Porter said. “We did go to China Beach while I was in Vietnam and we had to get out of the water because of sharks, so that satisfied them.”

That kind of interaction with young children is important, Shepherd said.

“If they don’t have a parent in the military, they’re oblivious to what goes on, they are really in their own little bubble and they don’t understand,” Shepherd said.

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