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CAASPP testing incentivized

Paly juniors will be taking the two-day California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests from after lunch to 3:30 p.m. on March 25 and 26. This year, Paly admin is taking new steps to incentivize students to take the exams.

In his weekly newsletter on Feb. 22, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Superintendent Don Austin detailed the benefits of such tests, the importance of taking them and the ways in which they can help the PAUSD community.

In addition to academic achievements recognized by the state, Assistant Principal Tom Keating notified juniors of the incentives offered to students taking the tests.

“We are working on a number of incentives for students who complete all of the CAASPP tests. Every student completing all tests will receive an item of Paly swag. In addition, we will hold a raffle.”

Assistant Principal Tom Keating

These new incentives come after previous years attendance was around 25 percent for these state-administered standardized testing over the past few years. In previous years, many students chose to opt out of these tests for various reasons. This year, Paly administration has decided to incentivize test takers, hoping these new prizes may increase participation.

“Paly was asked by the District Office to come up with a plan to increase student participation in CAASPP testing,” Keating said.

The raffle will contain a range of highly coveted items, some with values over $100. Student parking passes, athletic passes, yearbooks and VIP parking for the junior class graduation ceremony in 2020 are among the potential prizes.

According to senior Esme Stotland, students didn’t take the tests in past years lack of information and incentives.

“I didn’t take the test because there wasn’t really any benefit,” Stotland said.

According to Keating, the District wanted more students to take the tests, so providing incentives was the most efficient way to effectively increase students excitement for participation.

“In a meeting at the District Office early in the school year, Gunn High School administrators shared a list of incentives they put in place last school year,” Keating said.

This change may have had the desired impact, as some Paly students are reconsidering their original stance on taking the tests. Paly junior Kaitlin Meyer said that originally, the tests seemed unimportant, but may reconsider opting out after the new added incentives.

“The incentives have definitely made my decision harder because before I would of just opted out. I would really like a free parking pass but I don’t want to miss the material we are learning in class.”

Kaitlin Meyer

However, the new prizes may not have convinced all students. Paly junior Malia Chun thinks the addition of these new prizes may have been a kind gesture to test takers, but is unsure they are not worth the time.

Chun said, I was planning on taking the test but I am not sure if I will be able to. It is unfortunate that the testing is in the afternoon instead of the morning because then I would definitely be taking it. ” 

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