Health Team

Raleigh school takes healthy approach to improving test scores

Posted May 22, 2008
Updated May 23, 2008

— Students face a lot of pressure when they take their end of grade tests. One Raleigh school, however, may have stumbled upon a healthy edge.

The PTA, along with teachers and staff at Underwood Elementary School in Raleigh, came up with Brain Blast. The idea is to help students be at their best come test time – with pre-test exercise and a brain-boosting snack.

“Well, I'm kind of scared because I don't know any of the answers and I just want to try to do my best and it's kind of creepy,” Underwood Elementary School student Sam Simone said of his end of grade test.

Simone's teachers are helping him and his classmates get off on the right foot with a bit of exercise.

“And it's going to give us oxygen in our brain so that we can think,” Simone said of the Brain Blast effort.

Exercise, before school, helps wake up listless students for testing and more of it may also turn around the overweight epidemic among children. That is why more school systems are emphasizing recess.

“Whereas it used to be something that was flexible, now we have to provide that 25 minutes of structured physical activity everyday,” Underwood Elementary School principal Jackie Jordan said.

The other half of brain blast is a pre-test snack. No carbohydrates. Instead, kids get a protein snack: cheese sticks and yogurt, strawberries packed with vitamins and water for hydration.

Lakeisha Perry said the healthy snack will likely help her.

She wants “to focus on the test and just do your best,” Perry said.

Test results are important to the kids and are used as an important measure of success for the school, so Underwood Elementary is willing to try any healthy advantage.

Everyone is trying to coordinate efforts “so that when they're up there this morning, they know that their body has everything it needs to do its absolute best,” Jordan said.

The school is testing the impact of Brain Blast. Teachers will look for feedback from students to see if they felt better prepared for the test and had more energy or greater ability to concentrate. If the test scores are high, more schools may pick up on the Brain Blast idea.


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  • missparrothead May 27, 2008

    Way too much exposure to video games and t.v. Sad for the children. Good initiative on behalf of the school.

  • DLG May 27, 2008

    I think that is a good idea. May be all the elementary schools should think about doing this pre-test excercise. This may also help w/ the stress. I hope there will be a followup on this article just to see how the kids did.

  • angora2 May 26, 2008

    "No carbohydrates. Instead, kids get a protein snack: cheese sticks and yogurt, strawberries..."

    Check your nutritional facts, guys. Yogurt and strawberries both have carbs. GOOD carbs, mind you, but they DO have carbs.

  • tarheelalum May 23, 2008

    An incredible initiative!!!!!!!

  • Adelinthe May 23, 2008

    "Exercise, before school, helps wake up listless students for testing and more of it may also turn around the overweight epidemic among children."

    Profound statement, but they just had to try the other way first, putting children at risk of failure and obesity didn't they.

    I think it's sad how children nowadays don't know how to use their imaginations to develop play activities. We've given them so much that is structured that we've stiffled their imagination. Shameful!

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • PTA mom May 23, 2008

    I applaud Underwood for their creativity- hope other WCPSS schools will follow suit. In the end though I wish parents would take the responsiblity of making sure their students were well prepared for the tests by feeding them nutriously, making sure they get plenty of exercise and put them to bed at an appropriate time for their age. My phone once rang at 10:30pm on a school night with one of my son's first grade classmates calling to chat! If parents did their part then the teachers would only have to worry about making sure the students know the material.

  • Living and Loving in NC May 23, 2008

    It is nice to see us moving in this direction, even if on a limited scope. In China the school day begins with group exercise, which is repeated at about 2-hour intervals throughout the school day, which lasts from the early morning to late afternoon. I believe it would behoove us to implement such practices here at home.

    Another direction we may want to explore is examining how we structure teaching and review time periods. I recently had the pleasure of attending a seminar conducted by Scott Hagwood (America's Grand Master of Memory). He indicated that we would do well to use a different framework for presenting new concepts and review time in the educational system.

  • gratefultoGOD May 23, 2008

    Sounds like a great idea! One all counties should implement! I helped proctor test in Wayne county this week... it is LONG and boring for adults.. I can only imagine for the kids!

  • something2say May 23, 2008

    It sounds practical. I hope it inspires parents to get their kids active too!