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Does CRCT Testing Pass the Test?

Or is it time to give it an "F" and find another way to test competency in our school system?

After stressing for most of the year, students, teachers and parents can finally relax.

There is almost a full year before the dreaded Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCTs, come around again. For much of the school year, teachers worry that they haven’t taught enough, students worry that they haven’t learned enough — and parents wonder what they can give their children to eat to maximize their concentration on CRCT test days.

But after all is said and done, is it really worth it? Robert Schaefer, public education director for FairTest National Center for Fair and Open Testing, doesn’t think so.

In a recent op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution titled “When put to a test, testing culture flunks,” Schaefer said the current testing culture encourages cheating. He said it wasn't just the Atlanta Public School System that resorted to cheating to meet the testing standards. Schaefer said FairTest has documented similar test score manipulations in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia. 

Schaefer is one of a growing number of educators who say the current system just does not work. On top of the incentive to cheat, Schaefer said a study released last year by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science concluded that high-states testing has not improved the quality of education.

So what do you think? Is it time to give CRCTs an F and find another way to test the competency of teachers and their students?

North Georgia Weather May 01, 2012 at 03:53 PM
How do you not test? What other option is there? Oh wait... everyone should pass regardless, right??? Testing is not designed to improve the quality of education, it's designed to assess the knowledge of the students to see what they've learned.
Mitch May 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
You have to test in some form to see where students (and teachers) stand. I see no other way. I'm afraid to see this day...New Obama Education Plan: The top 5% grade earners must give a portion of their school work and scores to the lower 50%.
North Georgia Weather May 01, 2012 at 05:05 PM
What people might not know is that in order to pass the CRCT, you only hav eto get 1/2 of the questions correct. I mean really, how hard can it be if you've done your work all year? If you can't get half the questions correct, you don't need to pass in my opinion.
Kristi Reed (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Back in the olden days when I was in school, we didn't have high stakes testing. The teachers graded us throughout the year and decided if we had learned enough to advance to the next grade. Back then, students actually failed and were held back if they did not perform well and parents were expected to support the teacher's decision. I understand the concerns that led to high stakes testing, but, as Jimmy Orr once asked, are we teaching students to learn or teaching them to test? (http://dacula.patch.com/articles/teaching-to-learn-or-teaching-to-test)
Sharon Swanepoel May 01, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I too was from the olden days - maybe olden, olden days, and testing - or exams as we called them - were given every quarter with a final at the end of the school year. There just wasn't any money attached to it (unless the student's parents offered it as an incentive). I believe attaching the money to it is one of the biggest problems. Money always corrupts.
North Georgia Weather May 01, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I personally don't see anything wrong with the test. Yes, I'm also from the REAL old school where you were tested throughout the year and you passed based on that. Maybe the CRCT should only be used to rank schools/school systems and not used to determine whether you pass or fail. And yes, testing techniques are taught to the students every year so they'll perform better on the test.
Mitch May 01, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Money? From who parents? I'm not familiar with this. The only thing I remember getting was a little cup from the teacher with a nice snack mix between tests. My parents simply expected that I perform well and didn't reward me for passing a test. I grew up taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills each year and remember it being fairly easy since we just learned everything during that year. Those that failed were held back or took summer courses. Seemed all pretty simple to me then.
Jennifer May 01, 2012 at 06:47 PM
North Georgia Weather do you realize how much testing the kids do in school? Not only do they take the CRCT which is 2 sessions of 70 mins of testing for 5 days, but they also take the IOWA test I believe every other year which does rank the schools. The Cogat test which is about a week long. Then they take the Benchmark 4 times a year to make sure the kids are learning what they need to know for the CRCT. Funny thing is they take the last benchmark after the CRCT. So currently you are talking about 7 or so weeks taken up by testing. Now add the 2 weeks of review that these kids must deal with. By the time the test comes around the kids are bored and disinterested and just want to get it over with. The teachers are so stressed that they in return stress out our children. What has happened to evaluating the students on there grades that they earn all year round. Did we have to take a comprehensive test at the end of each year of College? We are asking for kids as young as 8/9 to recall everything for a year. Also I bet if we looked at it. The kids that make A's are the kids that have the higher scores and the ones that Make the C's are the ones with the lower scores. There are a few exceptions I know but for 95% of the kids i beat this holds true. Look at it this way if we just took out the CRCT we could allow our teachers to teach our children new stuff for another 3 weeks and they would learn more within that year. We over test in general and the CRCT is a joke.
Jennifer May 01, 2012 at 06:52 PM
She is talking about the teachers salaries and the bonuses that are giving to the upper managers. I wish I could remember how much money the Atlanta Public School leader got through out the years because their test scores where improving. That is how money corrupts.
Jennifer May 01, 2012 at 06:55 PM
No everyone should not pass. In fact if you can't read the test you should not go on to the next grade. You should pass based on your performance all year long. As far as assessing the knowledge of the students, that is what the Benchmark does. They take this test 4 times a year.
Jennifer May 01, 2012 at 06:58 PM
The teachers can be evaluated by their peers, students, parents, principles. You know a good teacher by how well they communicate, teach and how much fun the kids are having. Yes fun. The kids should enjoy learning new stuff. Some of the best teachers are the unconventional ones.
North Georgia Weather May 01, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Jennifer, I work at an elementary school and I proctored for the CRCT's, I know exactly how much testing there is. I've worked for school systems for 25 years. I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of test and I agree there should be less, but I don't necessarily disagree with the CRCT. I believe there should be a way of evaluating a students yearly progress though. And as I stated before, a passing score on the CRCT is 50%. Don't you think that if a child has learned anything over the school year that they should be able to recall 50%? If not, how are they suppose to move on to the next level. Based on what I've seen, the curriculum has been "dumbed" down to compensate for those that don't do well. Is that right, making things easier so more will pass?
Jennifer May 01, 2012 at 07:54 PM
They should be able to recall 50% of what they have been taught. So why do we have to have a 2 weeks of review? I don't believe we should make it easier, it is already to easy. The yearly progress are the test that are giving through out the year. If you did not learn the concepts in the first month of school you should not be able to manage the concepts at the end of the year. My thoughts are that we should teach our kids how to learn not how to take a test. We need to encourage our child to learn. We need to back up or teachers. We need to give our schools back to the teachers. One way is to take away the CRCT as you pointed out it is very easy to pass the test, so does it really evaluate what our children are learning? There has got to be a better way.
Joe Cobb May 01, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Under new models of teacher evaluation, CRCT's and other standardized testing are valuable as they give reference points to a child's academic growth. A child that exceeds in all categories their 3rd grade year should be expected to maintain a certain academic growth throughout their academic careers. Children who suddenly drop off the academic radar compared to their previous tests... have been done a disservice by their teacher. CRCT's measure as much of teacher performance as they do student achievement. I am not advocating that teachers who have students that don't score exceptional aren't doing a great job... in fact a student who barely passes might have had a fantastic teacher... and had never passed a CRCT before.
Joe Cobb May 01, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Without a CRCT test, you don't really have ANY baseline data to ascertain what type of job a school or teachers are doing. If each teacher arbitrarily assigns grades, then how do you compare teacher A to teacher B? Then the future academic standing of a child is determined by immeasurable means. Your child has every right to be as successful as my child regardless of teacher. Now the good news is the majority of teachers in this county do an incredible job with our most precious resource. And while the CRCT's are tedious and stressful, our great teachers welcome the opportunity to showcase how well they've taught our kids. I'd put Gwinnett's teachers in the top echelon of being able to teach while still adhering to a strict testing schedule.
North Georgia Weather May 01, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Well said Joe. My wife is a teacher in Gwinnett and said the same thing. And keep this in mind Jennifer, it is a state law that requires that all school systems take this test.
M.K. OSBORNE May 01, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I am thankful for my teachers who took the time to teach me the fundamentals that i have used to the hilt , i also did some mean christmas treeing on those Iowa basic skills test and did pretty decent .
Jennifer May 02, 2012 at 12:00 AM
For me a teacher should not be arbitrarily assigning grades. You test children. In Math,science, social studies, and reading comprehension, and language arts they either get the right answer or they don't and they have test weekly to bi-weekly on these subjects. As a teacher they have a set curriculum to teach, which would put the kids on the same level. The only part that I believe is a persons perception is writing. There is room for interpretation there. So why can't we look at the grades like you are saying we look at the CRCT? If a child goes from being a straight A student say to a B student then we should look at the circumstances of that problem. In my mind there is not a difference from that and the how you have explained the CRCT and how it is used. Don't get me wrong i love our teachers and they do a great job under the circumstances. I believe the state law needs to change regarding the testing. Just because it is law does not mean it does not need to be adjusted or questioned. I believe the intentions were good when it started, but I believe that the upper management people need to look at the testing to see if there is not a better way to accomplish the evaluation of teachers and students. There are several reasons a student may not do well on the tests. Anxiety, Sick, or just a bad day. I will say I am fortunate I have 2 very good test takers and students but I wonder how much more they could learn if they were not taking test every other day.
Joe Cobb May 02, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Of course a teacher shouldn't be arbitrarily assigning grades... but without any data to measure the performance of a student how do you assess them? Let's look at this hypothetical... student A receives an A in all course work from Teacher A. Student B receives B's in all course work. In society, we will agree that student A and teacher are are "superior" to Teacher B and Student B. However there is nothing... no data to back up this claim. Is teacher A "easier" or teacher B "harder"? CRCT testing gives us a chance to ascertain and develop teachers and curriculum therefore helping every student.
Jennifer May 02, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I think that might be the point. So why should we stress children out to the point of getting sick or stress out our teachers.
Jennifer May 02, 2012 at 12:41 AM
You can say the same about the CRCT. What we need to be looking at is from year to year are the students performing at the same level each year. Is the A student staying an A student. Does the student continue to Exceed Expectations each year on the CRCT. I am not looking at Teacher vs Teacher or Student vs Student. There are so many variables why one student and one teacher may not click or understand each other and another set clicks. I am looking at how one student does from year to year. I expect my children to keep there same type of grades from year to year. If My son is an A math student he should stay and A math student. If he became a B student I would then need to look at somethings. Is this a new concept, different type of math(Some people can do great at Algebra but horrible at Geometry), student being lazy or last very last is the teacher not explaining it properly? As far as having a base line is that not what the IOWA test is for and that is national? So why do we need to have so many base lines? My personal baseline for my children was set in 1,2, and 3 grade. I know what to expect out of my children and I know what they are capable of. I know there weak points and let me tell you the CRCT does not show them at all.
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Many children don't do well in high stakes tests, which came into being with No Child Left Behind. Also called No Corporation Left Behind, because the money made by the makers of high stakes standardized tests is astronomical. Who designed the CRCT? so who gets the money for doing so? Those who say teachers aren't forced to teach to test haven't been in a public classroom lately. Here's how things work in Athens, according to some concerned "stake holders": http://athens.patch.com/articles/clarke-county-schools-projecting-and-producing-failure-where-is-success
North Georgia Weather May 02, 2012 at 01:42 AM
The CRCT was designed by Pearson. It's just a test though, nothing fancy, I can't imagine it would be astronomical though. I don't know, I remember every test being stressful to me, it didn't matter what it was! :-)
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Can you imagine how much money the school systems would have for whatever if they didn't have to spend all the money on tests and grading that they do?They could hire more teachers, have smaller classes, better labs, etc. it's staggering to think how much each county spends. i think Gwinnett tests more than anyone, if my memory serves....
bertis downs May 02, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I wonder if this bill would lead to less testing in the public schools . . . I think it would: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20112012/HB/1292 see also: http://bit.ly/A0Qr80+
Karsten Torch May 02, 2012 at 04:04 PM
All standardized testing really does is make those in charge feel better about what they're doing, actually justifying their actions and intentions. If you attach salary hikes or anything to this testing, then of course people will cheat. The kids are also taught answers to questions, not HOW to get to those answers, which will be detrimental later in life. I work with my daughter regularly on her work, making sure she knows why an answer is what it is, changing things up so that she can arrive at the answer. She's not taught this. And I think she has an advantage in the schools, because she's in gifted classes and so receives some special attention and instruction. Public schools have become places to teach children to be good subjects, to go out and create wealth for the government, not to think for themselves. Truth is, teachers should teach, children should learn, and they should be tested as they go. Principals know who the good teachers are and aren't. And they should be free to fire or reprimand teachers as needed. And if the principals don't know who the good ones are, then maybe we need different principals. They're the boss, they should pay attention. Just my 2 cents' worth.....
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Thanks for contributing...
Rahandice Fortune May 16, 2012 at 04:22 AM
People lets not be blind these test are put out here so they can compare our children to God knows what! The testbscores determine how many prisons will be built in the near future dont be fooled by the fake concern for your child or his/her teacher thats all bull crap. Georgia had the worst education that I have ever seen period. I was lucky that I didnt have to attend school here until I was in the 11th grade. I got the basics in chicago. Do your research please parents! Im done!
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Thanks for your comments. I'm not convinced these tests do anything except stress out the children and their teachers.
North Georgia Weather May 16, 2012 at 01:56 PM
LOL! Testing takes time more than anything. Grading for the most part is automatic as the test are scanned, so no real time wasted there. Sorry guys, while I agree there could be fewer "major" test, how else do you evaluate student achievement and be able to make apples to apples comparisons with other students around the country?

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