Published Online: January 23, 2002
Published in Print: January 23, 2002, as State Journal

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Mutual Support

Teachers in the Kansas City, Mo., area have formed a cyber-support group to help ease their anxiety over the state's annual high-stakes student testing.

Educators can now call up a Web site chock-full of resources to help them prepare students for the tests.

About 70 teachers from Kansas City-area districts wrote sample test questions that appear on the site. The site has avoided controversy largely because it does not feature actual questions from the state exams.

The goal of the project is not only to help teachers prepare their students for the tests, but also to prepare the teachers themselves, said Peter Muenks, the Lee Summit school district's director of assessment, who participated in the project's development.

"It started off with a lot of crying on each other's shoulders," Mr. Muenks said. "We are all in the same boat. It's kind of like a mutual-support society."

Mr. Muenks and assessment directors from three other nearby districts came up with the idea about a year ago with the help of the Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which coordinated the project.

He's unaware of other, similar sites. The other directors are from the Kansas City, Central, and Independence school districts.

The project was financed by a $100,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and $30,000 from the Missouri Department of Education.

Educators around the state have been struggling to align their curricula with the material covered in the Missouri Assessment Program, known as the MAP.

The teachers who took part in writing the test questions underwent special training for the effort. The 6- week-old site features 119 test sections.

Kathy Jensen, the director of the regional professional-development center, hopes one day to have sample tests on the site for students. "This is just the beginning," she said. "We just need to add a lot to it." Ms. Jensen said the group is pursuing a second-year grant.

The site can be found at www.umkc.edu/kcrpdc/kcaap.

—Lisa Fine

Vol. 21, Issue 19, Page 14

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