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CRCT isnt gone just yet
Exam could still be a dominating factor in school performance
Oakwood Elementary School fifth-grader Christian Sanchez, center, reacts to a correct answer as he and classmates Jacqueline Perez, left, and Ezequiel Lopez study for the CRCT test with teacher Regina Cothran. - photo by Tom Reed

The age of Adequate Yearly Progress may be over, but the entire system is not yet a fossil.

Elementary and middle school students, for at least the next few years, will have to continue to take the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

Under the new accountability system, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, the test will still weigh on the overall score of each school.

The question is how much.

In the time of AYP, the CRCT served as the benchmark for school performance. Schools were evaluated solely on the scores.

Now the test is only a portion of the total school performance. But, school officials say, it could still be a major player in determining the school’s grade under the new index.

“While CRCT will not be front and center for the new accountability center, it will still be a part of it,” said Eloise Barron, Hall County Schools assistant superintendent. “At first blush, we thought this was wonderful. We’re not going to be named good or bad just based on a test score.”

The new index will weigh students’ CRCT test scores in English/language arts, reading, math, social studies and science.

How much is still undetermined, and the index is still in draft form.

It will also take into account student attendance and yearly progress.

AYP measured scores only in English/language arts, reading and math.

“It’s been interesting because generally what is measured gets the attention,” said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville City Schools superintendent. “There’s been a lot of criticism over the last 10 years about the testing getting a lot of attention. Because (the new index) has so many other factors, so far, I see it as a very healthy thing.”
Both school systems say they will treat the CRCT the same as in past years.

“Our schools are just as conscientious about this test, even though we know we’re not having AYP determination this year,” said Barron. “It could still be a dominating factor.”

Hall County will begin CRCT testing this week. Gainesville City schools will start April 23.

But the CRCT may soon join AYP in the scrap pile.

According to Barron, there may be a new test developed to assess Common Core curriculum, something Georgia adopted this year, joining 44 other states. That could replace the CRCT as early as 2015.

Before the test is replaced, however, it could be molded to meet the new standards.

“We’ve been told they’re tweaking (the CRCT) to meet the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards,” said Patty Robinson, Hall schools director for early literacy and school improvement.

The new standards go into effect next school year.

The 2011 test data will serve as a baseline to determine what improvements, in line with the new index, schools make this year. So, administrators and teachers are not taking the 2012 CRCT lightly.

“When we started to get the information about the focus schools and how they used the 2011 scores to determine that, we have to assume 2012 data is going to be just as important,” said Barron.

The state came out with the list of focus, priority and alert schools, used to determine schools that may need help.
Chicopee Woods Elementary School and Gainesville Middle School were on the focus list.

Although school leaders say there are still “a lot of questions left” with how the test scores will play into the new performance index, the CRCT will likely still play a major role.

The only thing schools can do is figure out how to use effective methods to keep up with the new standards and index.

“We, as a school system, don’t make decisions about what to teach,” said Barron. “But what we make decisions about it how to teach it.”

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