At John Marshall Mid-High School, encouraging posters line the hallways. English teacher Manuela Alger paced in front of a classroom full of eighth-graders practicing for essay writing.
“Run with it,” she said. “You're going to be fine.”
Younger students are encouraging their test-taking classmates with parades at Mark Twain, Eugene Field and Linwood elementary schools. A pep rally is planned at Capitol Hill Elementary School, where students will make a human chain as a sign of solidarity.
Students in grades three through eight can eat a free breakfast at participating McDonald's in Oklahoma from 6 to 9 a.m. Wednesday to kick-start testing.
Back in Long's classroom at Coolidge Elementary, students will spend more than a week reviewing.
In Oklahoma City Public Schools, students take three benchmark tests throughout the year. Long and the other third-grade teachers at Coolidge looked at their students' scores and identified what areas the children struggled with.
They reviewed things like drawing inferences while reading, calculating the passage of time and alliteration.
Students with dimpled cheeks and hoodies sat on a big square rug. Long moved through a list of common prefixes and asked them to come up with example words. It was the end of the day, and her students struggled to think of any. “Pretty?” one boy asked. Nope. Long explained why and then paused.
“Do we need to have a brain break?” she asked. Her students cheered. Time for some exercise. Long pulled up an online video about the Egyptian pyramids and the students ran, jumped and moved with the video host. Their cheeks flushed pink.
Then it was back to work. This time, she challenged them to come up with words that have suffixes. They mumbled a bit, thinking aloud. “Stupidness?” But once they got started, they were on a roll. “Kindness!” “Goodness!” Their excitement grew.
Long said she's ready for testing to begin, which for her school is on Wednesday.
“They are where they are, and that's where they're going to be,” Long said. “I've taught them what they need to know. I'm ready for them to take the test so we can see how well they'll do.”