Steamboat Springs Ryan Urban, a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, thinks he should get extra credit if he does well on the Colorado Student Assessment Program test being administered to third- through 10th-graders in Steamboat schools over the next two weeks.
Although Urban may not get the extra credit he is hoping for, he will not be penalized if he does not do well on the test either.
The CSAP is used by the state to gauge how well a school is doing in educating students in math, science, reading and writing.
Each student is compared individually to the state standard for each subject, but students' individual scores do not affect their academic standing. Still, local administrators said, it is imperative that students take the test seriously.
"I do consider why I am taking it," Urban said. "I think it is a good idea."
He said it would be nice if the CSAP counted for some academic credit, but he still tries hard to see how well he can do.
Samantha Young, a junior, said most students take the test seriously and those who don't usually do not try hard in their academic studies either.
"It shows what you're strongest in," Young said.
Last year's CSAPs were used by school faculty to target areas students needed to improve.
For example, Mike Knezevich, Steamboat Springs High School assistant principal, said adjustments were made last year because of low math scores.
To improve students' abilities in math, teachers reviewed math concepts from previous grades, went over concepts students struggled with, taught certain math lessons prior to the CSAP and had the students practice how to show their work on tests.
Knezevich said students had not previously been required to show their work on exams, which made it difficult for students taking the CSAP last year.
Urban said his math teacher handed out practice problems that were similar to the CSAP format to help him and his classmates do better on the test.
He said he noticed more emphasis on math this year after last year's results.
Knezevich said he felt most students' approach to the CSAP is like any other test, but he would like to give students an incentive to do well. For example, if students score proficient or above on the math portion of the CSAP, they would be exempt from taking the math exit test required for graduation.
School administrators prefer finding incentives for students to do well on the CSAP versus giving the test an academic weight.
Kelly Stanford, director of content standards for the Steamboat school district, said she doesn't want to see the CSAP become an academic requirement because of the unneeded stress it would place on students. She said the purpose of the test is to see how well a student is doing in terms of the established education standards.
Giving the test an academic weight would change the purpose of the test, she said.
Jerry Buelter, Steamboat Springs Middle School assistant principal, said parents have expressed concern about their children being beat up emotionally by a low score on the CSAP.
"Whether we like it or not, we stress about these things," said Buelter.
To counteract the stress and tension accompanied by the CSAP, the Steamboat Springs Middle School is providing fun, stress-reducing activities to all students in the morning before they begin testing.