Pumped for the PSSAs?

Today's the first day of the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of Standards Assessment) - the all-important statewide exam that determines whether a school is deemed passing or failing under the federal No Child Left Behind law. (I wrote about a state probe of possible cheating on PSSAs this weekend; you can read the story here and see the list of Philadelphia district and charter schools being investigated here.)

Educators, how is your school getting kids ready?  Parents, how are your kids feeling about the test? 

I put out a query on Twitter earlier today asking the same questions.  Here's what I've heard: one Philly educator said her students were nervous but ready.  Her principal had given teachers a huge bag of treats - gum, mints, lollipops - as incentives.  One parent said his kids' school prescribed lots of rest and a good breakfast, but the kids were still feeling pressure.  "All I hear is 'PSSA,'" the dad said.

A few teachers have told me about raffles for older students.  Essentially, students can win tickets for showing up and completing the test, with electronics offered as prizes at the end of the testing period.

Some schools shy away from incentives, though.  They just urge kids to do their best - a strategy educators at other schools say won't work for all kids.

At Friere Charter School today, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown - a former teachers - is speaking at a PSSA pep rally.

Use the comments section to share your thoughts - what's the PSSA been like at your school so far?  What are kids' moods?  How is your school getting kids ready and/or offering incentives?