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Schools try unique methods to take pressure off CRCT testing
Centennial Arts Academy fifth-grade teacher Linda May collects her students’ Criterion-Referenced Competency Test booklets Wednesday after a morning of testing. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

When it comes down to the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, one week of testing can define an entire year for a school.

The test, which is taken by first- through eighth-graders, is administered every spring and its results carry a lot of weight. The CRCT tests students’ knowledge of subjects like reading, language arts and math.

“This (exam) is the way our state and federal government measures if students are meeting standards, which makes the test very important to our school,” said Paula Stubbs, South Hall Middle School principal.

“It is also used as the only indicator to determine if (an elementary or middle) school made Adequate Yearly Progress.”

Schools nationwide are required to meet AYP standards each year, as a requirement under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

Institutions that don’t make AYP face a number of escalating consequences, including being placed on a needs improvement list.

Additionally, the results of the exam can be used to determine if changes need to be made at the classroom level.

“(The CRCT) is important as a screening tool, which shows that our students are able to at least meet basic skill levels,” Stubbs said.

“We use it somewhat to begin to understand where certain students need more attention. We also use the results as a diagnostic tool to determine our teaching strengths and weaknesses.”

Although students can’t opt out of taking the exam, students and administrators can find ways to make the experience more enjoyable. While several schools hold CRCT pep rallies, fifth-grade students at Centennial Arts Academy created a CRCT-themed music video called “Test Taker Face.” The song mimics pop artist Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”

“The CRCT is a test we have to take. We worked hard all year long and so good grades we will make,” the students sing.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in first or fifth grade. Do your best, you will succeed, do not be afraid.”

Area elementary and middle school students began testing on Tuesday and will finish for the week today. They will finish testing Wednesday.