“One of the girls said she loves to take the test because she gets the mints,” Mack said.
“Supposedly, there’s a connection between oral stimulation and the brain,” Mack said.
Maybe it gives the Matthew Thornton students an edge.
“We always do well on the tests,” Mack said.
Candy boosts the students at Barka, too.
“Teachers purchase peppermints,” Pike said.
Natasha Ondzes, curriculum director for School Administrative Unit 28, which includes Windham and Pelham, said Windham Center School principal Kori Becht makes sure students have a snack the first day and reminds them to eat a good breakfast and have a protein snack daily during testing.
At Pelham High, there’s a special incentive for students: exemptions from final exams for those who do well on the testing.
“It’s really highly motivating for kids,” Ondzes said.
All SAU 28 schools do a great job explaining to students the testing measures to students and what they have accomplished, she said.
“That is something that really resonates with kids,” Ondzes said. “Kids want to show what they know and put their best foot forward.”
University of New Hampshire education department chairman Michael Middleton said schools have engaged in these activities for at least five years, as the testing culture has taken hold in public schools.
They range from pep rallies to notices sent home to parents about the importance of tests and making sure students are well rested, he said.
There’s a lot riding on the tests, educators agree, both for schools that strive to meet adequate yearly progress benchmarks to maintain federal funding and for students whose districts will be a possible consideration in their future college acceptances.
Middleton doesn’t deny the motivational school activities can help students and school performance.
“We may see some small benefit,” Middleton said.