Ready, set … test! |

Ready, set … test!

Vail Daily/Bret HartmanRed Sandstone second grade teacher Mary Ward gives 7-year-old Robert Majia a diagnostic reading test Wednesday at the school in Vail. Teachers say the early testing was a plus for getting to know kids and getting the tests out of the way.

VAIL ” Logan Carlson said it was a bit difficult getting back into the academic routine after summer vacation.

But apparently not too difficult ” she scored highly on reading and math tests that she took Wednesday at Red Sandstone Elementary School, where she is entering the fifth grade.

The test will let Logan’s teacher know what the jumping-off point is for her studies this year.

School starts with a new twist for elementary school students this year in Eagle County. The school district decided to get its reading and math tests out of the way right away.

The new system got good reviews from Red Sandstone teachers.

“We have a whole hour to test them and bond with them,” said Mary Ward, a second-grade teacher. “It’s awesome. … When school starts, they won’t be so nervous.”

Ward said she hopes the testing sessions happen next year, too.

At Red Sandstone, the students were coming in for an hour at a time Wednesday and Thursday. They spent about 15 minutes taking reading and math tests in the library, then moved to their classroom, where they met their new teachers and took a few more tests.

The first regular day of school is Friday.

Before this year, the teachers individually tested students one-on-one while conducting the regular class at the same time. That delayed assessment of the students for several weeks.

“It’s good information to plan for instruction,” said Nancy Ricci, Red Sandstone’s principal.

LeAnne Valencia was waiting in the hallway with her daughter, fourth-grader Kayla, to begin testing.

“I think it’s a good thing that they’re starting with testing,” she said. “It gets the kids back in the hang of getting up early and being where they need to be.”

The testing is especially good for students who are new to the school, Ricci said.

There are 21 new students in grades one through five at the school. There are 228 students at the school this year.

Fourth-grade teacher Rhena Rizzo was testing one of her students who had moved here from Florida. The girl, who was a little shy at first, tested at a high level and got to know Rizzo.

Carol Thalman, a reading specialist who was helping Rizzo, said it may have taken the school a while to evaluate the girl’s reading level without the one-on-one assessment.

“It would have taken us weeks to know it,” Thalman said.

Carolyn Neff, director of elementary education for the school district, said the district has been considering the change for several years.

“We’re gaining at least of month of instruction time,” she said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

Vail, Colorado

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