PSSA testing is underway at Bald Eagle Area School District, and a group of teachers at Mountaintop Area Elementary School are doing all they can to help bring peace of mind to students at a time that can be a little stressful. Some of it even came with help from families to bring words of encouragement to their child before taking the tests.

Reading interventionist and PBIS coordinator Cortney Schall is spearheading incentives for students on each day of the exams. They include positive messages and treats. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program – also known as the Schoolwide Positive Behavior program – aims to improve the school’s climate by rewarding students for good behavior.

Principal Mary Beth Crago said third- through fifth-grade students also have extra recess and music playing during lunch on those days.

And third-grade teacher Sue Pratt asked families of her students to do a little bit of their own homework by creating positive letters and posters for their child. They were then handed out as a surprise on the day of the test.

She said she edited a note to fit her class, and sent home five days’ worth of notes and poster paper in a sealed envelope requesting families use the supplies to include words of motivation or pictures.

“While teachers can teach and inspire their students, no one has as much influence on a child as the people who know and love them the most – their families,” Pratt said. “It is one more way we can support their children together.”

Many of the posters said phrases such as “you will do great,” “you’re awesome” and “we love you.”

“I melted when I read some of their messages and their posters,” Pratt said. “My students were so excited when they came in (on April 15) and read the messages from their families.”

PSSA — Pennsylvania System of School Assessment is a set of standardized tests administered to students in public schools across the commonwealth. It tests students in elementary and middle school in subjects such as language arts, math and science.