In a special meeting held in one of the warehouses located in the district’s offices, hundreds of parents watched their Sulphur Springs Union School District students receive Achievement of Excellence awards Wednesday.
The awards were presented to those fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from all nine schools in the district that had achieved the highest scale score on their 2018 language arts and mathematics state testing last year — tests taken by all children their age across the state.
A total of 69 students received the recognition, and once hearing their name called, walked to the front of the warehouse, stepped on stage and shook hands with the SSUSD board members and superintendent. They stood alongside their classmates and displayed their awards.
“These tests are pretty high stakes,” said Denis DeFigueiredo, president of the SSUSD school board. “The children we recognized tonight achieved perfect scores in either the English language arts or mathematics … which is a large accomplishment.”
One such student recognized, Pinetree Elementary sixth-grader Reese Shaughnessy, was one of the last to have her name be called off, and was noted to be a perfect score recipient, in both the mathematics and English language arts section, for the past three years.
“We do practice tests and then we do one test for a week, and another test for a week,” Shaughnessy said, adding that she wants to be a chemical engineer one day.
Her parents were standing alongside her and noted that, despite this being the third assembly and awards night they have attended since their daughter started taking standardized tests in third grade, they had not grown tired of it.
“We always tell our kids to work hard and do the best (they) can,” said Reese’s father, Rob Shaughnessy. “We’re just excited.”
The award ceremony has traditionally been held during the month of April, as the current year’s Smarter Balanced Assessment testing is about to begin.
When asked how challenging it is to get 100 percent on these tests, Mike Adachi, Reese’s sixth-grade teacher who was in attendance at the ceremony, compared it to throwing a no-hitter in baseball.
“We have the tests coming up again for two weeks in May,” Adachi said. “May 13th is when we start the English language arts, and then a week later we start the mathematics test.”