Delaware third- and fourth-graders are being encouraged to "embrace the butterflies" in preparation for next week's testing.

Delaware third- and fourth-graders are being encouraged to "embrace the butterflies" in preparation for next week's testing.

Delaware City School District students will take the Ohio Achievement Assessments in the coming weeks.

The Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a new state policy that requires third-grade students to earn a score of 392 or higher on the reading portion of the state tests to advance to fourth grade.

Carlisle Elementary School Principal Renae Schwartz said the administrative staff at the school has been trying to ease some of the tension and stress students may feel before the tests.

On Friday, April 25, students were entertained by their teachers at a pep rally designed to teach children how to "embrace their butterflies" and what to do if they make mistakes during the test.

"We are emphasizing that they are being tested on things they have been learning since kindergarten. It's all about showing what they already know," Schwartz said.

She said teachers competed in a faux pageant and dressed up as different characters such as Maddie Attitude and Curious Carla, highlighting how to go back and answer questions students forgot and encouraging them to get a good night's sleep before the tests.

Teachers also rewrote the pop song Call Me Maybe to apply to testing, employing first- and second-grade students for the music video.

Guidance counselor Marie Weller also has been visiting classrooms to teach students how to handle anxiety and stay calm.

Schwartz said even though the consequences are higher this year, there has been no real change in classroom instruction.

"We are not putting any pressure on our students or trying to freak them out," she said. "We are teaching them what they need to know and instructing them on how to take tests and how to read questions, because that's half the battle."

Schwartz said teachers administer practice tests in the classrooms as well as to additional screenings and assessments to make sure students who are struggling get extra help before the test.

"The thing that throws students off the most is questions being asked in ways they've never seen," she said. "We try to prepare them for that."

Schwartz said although the stakes are higher with these tests, she believes staffers have done their best to ready their students.

"Teachers have prepared our students very well and they've been given all the skills they need to do their best on the test," she said.