Georgia’s CRCT

When 40% of an individual teacher’s students fail a standardized test, I imagine the teacher would be scrutinized, and rightly so. Whatever I think of standardized tests, 40% of a teacher’s students shouldn’t fail one, or something’s wrong with the teacher’s instruction. If 40% of a school’s students failed a standardized test, the school might be sanctioned depending on other factors — part of making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) for NCLB means schools must maintain or even improve their pass rates for standardized tests. If schools fail to make AYP, a series of sanctions will follow, from losing funds to faculty “reorganization.” Again, if 40% of students at a school fail a test, there is something wrong with the school’s instruction.

But what if 40% of students in an entire state fail a test that they must pass in order to go to high school?

Unofficial results indicate that 40% of Georgia’s 8th grade students failed the math portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), the main standardized test used in Georgia to meet NCLB requirements regarding testing. Last year, about 19% of students failed the math portion of the test. Students must pass this section of the CRCT in order to proceed to high school. Some are blaming the new math curriculum, while others are saying the test must be poorly constructed. I can’t say, not having seen it. I asked my daughter, who took it, and she says she believed she passed, as she thought students at her school who didn’t were instructed to see the counselor, and she was given no such instruction. She has been an A-student in math all year, so I shouldn’t have cause to worry, but the fact that 40% of students failed the test worries me.

The news regarding social studies was even worse. Less than 30% of 6th and 7th graders passed the social studies portion of the CRCT. Again, results like this for one teacher or one school can be explained, but for a whole state? Especially troubling to me are reports from students that they were asked questions about material they hadn’t learned. How could that happen on a “criterion-referenced” test?

I know the perception exists that Georgia schools are universally backward, but after having graduated from a Georgia school and watching my children in Georgia schools, I have to say that like everywhere else, Georgia has good schools and poor schools. A pertinent quote from the New Georgia Encyclopedia entry on Public Education:

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a college entrance exam often used to compare the performance of high school students among states and among school districts within a state. In 2003 Georgia students averaged 984 (combined verbal and math scores) on the SAT, compared with a national average score of 1026. When SAT scores are used to compare states, Georgia usually finishes near the bottom. The College Board, which administers the SAT, cautions against the use of SAT scores for this purpose, because the population of students taking the SAT in each state varies considerably. In some states, most students take a different test, the American College Testing [sic] (ACT). In those states, students who take the SAT generally have strong academic backgrounds and plan to apply to some of the nation’s most selective colleges and scholarship programs. For example, in 2002 there were nearly 54,000 Georgia students who took the SAT. In contrast, only 1,900 Iowa students took the SAT. (As a point of reference, Georgia had more than 72,000 high school graduates in 2002, while Iowa had nearly 34,000 high school graduates.)

My point in bringing this up is that I think it’s unfair to dismiss problems with the CRCT with a blanket generalization like “Georgia’s just got bad schools.”

So what happened, I wonder?

20 thoughts on “Georgia’s CRCT”

  1. Holy cannoli.

    I'm with you – if this was criterion-referenced, then why weren't students taught the stuff? There has to be more to it than incompetent teachers, because 40% is almost systemic failure.

    Do you think Georgia will lower the standards to meet the kids, or will they overhaul the curriculum to meet the standards?

  2. Cupcake, my guess is that in the short-term, the test will be called "flawed," and some adjusting will be done.

    In the long-term, they'll either overhaul the curriculum or revisit the test. My money is on revisiting the test because Georgia just went through a massive curricular overhaul in the move from Quality Core Curriculum to Georgia Professional Standards.

    Like I said in my post though, I am worried that kids were asked about information that wasn't on the test. An example was a comment from a parent who said she knew her son was in trouble when he came home and asked her who Andrew Lloyd Webber was because he was referenced in a question on social studies CRCT. OK, I had no idea myself who Webber was when I was in 6th grade either, but without knowing what the question asked, it's hard to say whether it was a bad question or not.

  3. So where is the breakdown? Were teachers not prepared properly on what to teach as far as the test was concerned? Were they not provided with the necessary support and training? Or could it be that it simply was a "bad" test?

  4. After seeing the bar raised to what appears to be to high a level,one has to wonder if the state board of education is all that smart. Are they so out of touch with the students and what level of teaching is going on in the class that we need to replace the state leaders beginning with Ms. Cathy Cox?

  5. As a parent of an 8th grader AND a school teacher, let me assure you, this is NOT the fault of the teachers. More TEACHERS need to assemble these tests and less politicians. The fact that the State was aware that so many would fail is appalling. When the curriculum is changed as radically as this one was, more needs to be done to prepare the teachers and students to teach and learn the new standards before a state-wide test is given. My son passed the CRCT, but I do not know by how many points, nor would i even want to guess at this point. The test may not have been flawed, but the State's preparation and lack of communication with parents, teachers, and administrators is.

  6. Well it seems to me that some very fundamental mistakes have been made.It will be up to Kathy Cox to find a way to wiggle out of this one.I have a niece that has always made As' and some Bs'.To punish the children because of the teaching curriculum is absurd.Georgia will become the laughing stock of nationwide education.If we knew there ws going to be a very high rate of failure we should have taken steps to prevent it.There is plenty of blame to go around but it should NOT be placed on the students shoulders. The repurcussions of this fiasco are mind boggling. Lets work together to be sure this never happens again. Meanwhile Kathy should look into make up tests and keeping the students on track and not let them be discouraged.Plenty of time for job hunting later. My GOD if she knew the children would fail what could she have been thinking. Our children are the future we should always protect them.

  7. One word pairing stands out in this entire exchange: systemic failure [by cupcake]. Georgia's atrocious test scores are a perfect example of bureaucracy in action, or in other words 'inaction.' There is nothing good about bureaucracy. Now this is not about blaming teachers but do you honestly expect me to believe that not one competent teacher ever saw this coming? If there are more administrators and state education department leaders for each teacher than there are teachers per student, we have a bureaucratic [i.e. systemic] failure. The educators should not have to be concerned about who is in charge. Each teacher could probably provide a list of 3 people to whom they answer. That is just ridiculous. Ultimately the teacher should answer to the student. If you are a teacher and there is something screwy about textbooks, testing, or curriculum, do not be afraid to poke the bear. The bear does not pay your salary. I pay your salary, along with a lot of other taxpayers in this great state of Georgia. Even blaming Kathy Cox is a moot point. I have lived in Georgia for most of my life. I went to middle school, high school, and college in Georgia. Unfortunately, this state has consistently ranked in the bottom 15 in nationwide education. This has got to stop. 1 in 3 students failed a standardized skills test. If I were a betting person, I would have wagered 4 out of 5 students would have passed and lost my backside. As a former soldier, allow me this example: if 1 in 3 soldiers were killed in a war… any war, it would be considered a tragedy of historic proportion. Initial outcry would be against leaders… military and civilian… and there would likely be prison time for some of them. However, it would be the time-tested doctrine that should ultimately be brought into question. It would have to be changed. Politicians decide whether we win or lose wars but the military has no other option but to win the battles. That is how military personal are kept alive. The military has routinely kicked butt for over 230 years. These Georgia kids are battling for a diploma. For crying out loud, we all need to be concerned with getting all of these kids a high school diploma. As teachers, you are the captains and the lieutenants. You are the company commanders and platoon leaders. If you do this right, you get most students to fill the roll of the non commissioned officer [the most important ingredient in any combat situation]. Motivate them. Inspire them. Most importantly, look out for them. Make them want to learn and they will make teaching a whole lot easier.

  8. First of all, you said you don't blame the teachers, but then you make it clear that you do in fact think they are at fault for perhaps not standing up for students and for not motivating and inspiring them. If that many kids statewide fail a test, it is not a problem with the teachers; it's a problem with the test or the curriculum or both.

    I don't think it's completely fair to bring up ranking in light of the blockquoted paragraph I cited. Yes, Georgia ranks low when we compare apples to oranges. More interesting would be if we compared Georgia's SAT scores to those of states who also allow 54,000 students to take the test instead of just 1,900.

    Also, I have to say I am flummoxed by your assertion that teachers are able to make all the curricular decisions, including defining what is or is not good for students. Your taxes may go towards a public teacher's salary, but it is not as simple as you describe — you do not hand money directly over to a teacher, and I think it is oversimplifying things to state, as so many believe, that taxpayers pay public teachers' salaries. If you believe that a teacher who acts in the manner you describe would last very long on the job, I think you are much mistaken. Georgia no longer has tenure, and we also do not always have the support of our administration, district, or even our parents. Lots of "competent teachers" saw this coming, but a lot of people don't listen to teachers. Ultimately, teachers like everyone else, have to do what their bosses say to do, and it would be nice if there was less bureaucracy, but the fact is that there isn't. Teachers need to do what they can stay employed in this economy, too. I think you're venting at the wrong crowd here. Kathy Cox needs to hear your frustrations, as she is the only person who is in a position to determine what to do about it.

  9. Respectfully, Ms. Huff, I never thought I was venting. Additionally, I never asserted that the teachers "are able to make all the curricular decisions" regarding education. I just suggested that if something seems wrong with the system and teachers are a part of that system I would hope that their voices could be heard. Based on your very response I guess that is not the case. Do not think for a moment that Kathy Cox is not going hear something from me. I do not have kids of my own but as a home owner in this state, the bulk of property tax goes to education so I do believe that I have a right to find out why tax dollars are being spent on a broken system. I will pursue any avenue I can, from writing my congressman to posting on an educators' blog. At one time I have even thought of becoming a teacher but now I am not so sure. In any case, God bless you for being a teacher.

  10. You are right. Teachers' voices should be heard, and too often they are not. Perhaps I made a leap in assuming you meant something broader than you said. At any rate, I think you are right to let Kathy Cox and your congressman know your concerns. Teachers can and do many wonderful things to help our students learn, but for many (not me, as I am a private educator), it comes down to students' performance on one test on one day. And what do you do when the test doesn't measure what you taught because you were not trained in the curriculum, as some teachers are claiming happened with the social studies part. The math test is a whole separate issue and trouble can be chalked up to a controversial new math curriculum the state rolled out. My daughter happened to love it and did well. Math was her favorite class. She knows she passed the CRCT, but we don't know beyond that how well she did. The low test scores in this case could be down to teacher training with the new curriculum, but I'm not really sure.

    Thanks for your comments.

  11. No one talks about the 5 th graders. In our school 5 th graders with a and bs did not pass the crct test. I would like to know why. Some teachers say the test that the 5th grade took was more of a 7th or 8th grade level. It had problems that the student have never had t do.

  12. I have a very intelligent 3rd grader who passed with flying colors. I also have an 8th grade niece who failed every category. I am disappointed in the state education system that they would administer a test knowing that thousands would fail. Don't we set our children up for enough failure as it is? It is our responsibilities as parents, educators, professionals, congressmen, governors, etc. to make sure we set obtainable goals for these children. I don't think lowering the standards to meet the children is the answer, however, proper information to the parents and teachers might help bridge the gap. Why not transition the test over 2 years to make it easier for the educators to get the information to the children instead of making it go from 2 to 10 one year, go 2 to 6 and then 6 to 10 the 2nd year. Setting unobtainable goals is an outrage. I'm blessed with an intelligent child who works above his grade level, my next one coming up behind may not be so lucky. Do we fix it where our kids have to struggle and worry, get ulcers, commit suicide and god knows what else because they don't think they meet our expectations? I know of high school children whose schedules are already so full, they don't have time to breathe, why add more pressure to them. They may be children, but they are very very perceptive to the world around them. If you have a child who is struggling like my niece is everyday anyway, don't we think those children need a little extra attention when preparing for the test? And yes, they have ownership in the failure too, but whomever creates the test should work with educators and professionals to set "obtainable" goals.

  13. Hello, I teach in the Georgia School System. I believe that the GPS are going to be great for our students in time. I think that the test should be given, but the results should not count for up to 3 years. The GPS are new, and the students have gaps in their knowledge. The students have no prior knowledge to build on what you are trying to teach them. I believe that in maybe 3 years our students will be in great shape concerning their education.

  14. My son took the 8th grade math CRCT here in GA. We were notifed today that he failed the re-test six points (2 questions). He breezed through the reading portion. He has always done very well in school and passed all CRCT's. He has been in his bedrrom crying all evening over the news of the failure and the phrase "RETAINED In the 8th Grade" in the letter from te school. I have a meeting with the school superintendant Monday morning (7-14) at 9am to try to persuade him to promote my son to the 9th grade. Does anyone have any advice (besides the CRCT being a complete sham) for me on how I can present my case? Someone told me there is a state law that says the parent, one teacher and the principle can make a decision on promotion after a failing CRCT score. Is this a fact? Do I have to go along with the retainment? Thanks, GeorgiaPeach

  15. If students attend summer school for a retake on te CRCT why don't they get a results of the score the second time around. They just sent a letter in the mail saying my son will not be promoted. He went for reading, his 1st score was (793). Now the second score was not given to him. I would like to know if he did bettr or worse.

  16. Yes that is to be true. I have to meet with the teacher and principal about my child this Monday, mornimg. At least you did get a retake score I did not I just recieved a letter.

  17. I applaud you for telling everyone how and what you think because I think the same way that you do but when you speak to teachers they always try and avoid the issues at hand and give brush off answers and puts all the fault on the children and that is not spoken in a professional manner which comes off a little rude toward a parent.

  18. Thank you for expressing yourself because I feel exactly the same as u do. The remark " I got mine u better get yours" They don't think with their suppose to be educational skills. And I often feel that if your field is math why are u teaching english. You are right they are out of touch with their students.

  19. As this is an older post about problems on Georgia's CRCT in 2008, I am closing comments. We are beginning to receive comments unrelated to this particular administration of the CRCT.

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