Health Team

Raleigh school takes healthy approach to improving test scores

Posted May 22, 2008 6:42 p.m. EDT
Updated May 23, 2008 10:33 a.m. EDT

— 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.