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CRCT on the brain
Test strikes at nerves of teachers, students
Peterson with her class reviewing for test
Victoria Peterson’s third-grade students at Lyman Hall Elementary work with a study guide to review language arts skills. - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones
Today, teachers across Liberty County are taking one last day to prepare students for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

The CRCT will be administered a day after Liberty County students return to school from spring break, the week of April 20.

In grades 3, 5 and 8, the test will determine whether students continue to the next grade.
“The passage says he was nervous,” Victoria Peterson tells her third grade class Wednesday. “We talked about this word, class. How many of you are still nervous about taking the test?”
Hands in the air, more than half the class responded in unison, “I am.”
“I told y’all you don’t have to be nervous,” she said. “We’ve been studying this stuff all year. If you just remember what I have taught you, you will do just fine.”
Peterson has been teaching third grade at Lyman Hall for eight years.  
For all eight of those years she and her colleagues have been required to administer the CRCT.
The test is used to measure individual student strengths and weaknesses in language arts, reading and math as it relates to the instruction of the state’s curriculum, as well as gauge the quality of education throughout Georgia.
It also determines, under the guidelines of No Child Left Behind, whether schools and teachers meet the adequate yearly progress requirements of the state, which could also determine state and federal funding for the school.
Although Lyman Hall has met AYP requirements for eight consecutive years and its teachers say they are confident in their instruction, some say the demands of the test put overwhelming pressure on students and teachers.
“Even though you can’t control what one kid does on the math for the test, you still end up thinking, ‘did I do everything that one particular kid needed’,” Peterson said. “We try really hard, but you just never know.”
“And you don’t want your scores to be the lowest in the box,” she said.
But the stress teachers feel, some said, pales in comparison to the strain on children.
“It gets harder every year,” eighth grader Kayla Rocker said. “They say you are supposed to know it all, but then they have cram sessions, trying to make you learn in a week what you should have been learning all year. We’re getting peer-pressured this week.
“And taking it right after spring break makes me more nervous,” she said. “Who wants to have to study over spring break?”
According to Lyman Hall Principal Claire Blanchard, this is not the first time students have taken the test right after a break. She said the test must be administered during a specified time to allow it to be graded and returned before the school year ends.
“If a child truly knows the material, they are going to retain it,” she said.
To calm everyone’s concerns, Blanchard said, teachers, students and parents must work together to ensure students have the best chances of passing.
“These kids are all of our kids, and we all have to work together to do what’s best for our children,” she said.
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