CRCT losing relevance?
Though it will still be administered during the upcoming school year, the CRCT is losing influence. That’s because it will no longer be the only measure for student achievement as Georgia shifts away from No Child Left Behind and into the College and Career Ready Performance Index, according to Georgia DoE spokesman Matt Cardoza. The move to a multi-state Common Core curriculum also diminishes the test’s importance, and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers is in the process of creating a new assessment.
Preliminary Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores for the Liberty County School System show gains in science, English and social studies, but reading and math skills need sharpening.
LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer said the gains in science are a particular point of pride, since it was deemed alongside math last year as an area that needed improvement.
“The science shows some pretty remarkable improvement, particularly in eighth grade, so that’s something we’re pleased about,” Scherer said.
Science scores for all middle school grades increased from the final district scores last year, and seventh-grade science beat the state average of 84.57 percent meets or exceeds the standard with 87.7 percent.
Scherer attributes the science boost to the district placing more emphasis on the subject, creating more application-based lessons and the integration of iPads into middle school science classes.
Because the tablets were introduced in January, students had at least two months of iPad instruction prior to the April tests, Scherer said.
When students return in the fall, Georgia will adhere to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which places more emphasis on application-based learning than did the Georgia Performance Standards, so students will continue to benefit from those types of lessons.
And the shift toward application may help LCSS students in math, an area where some continue to struggle.
Math scores for fifth and eighth grades were down from the final scores last year. Last year, 94 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded the standards in the final results, while 92 percent statewide did. The preliminary number this year shows 82 percent met or exceeded.
Eighth-grade math is also down to 75 percent. Last year’s official rate for the district was 85, just down from the state average of 86 percent.
“That’s part of the state struggle that we have had with math and changing that back and forth,” Scherer said. “So I’m hoping that with the Common Core, we’re going to stick with it — that’s important — and be systematic about what we’re teaching.”
In the last five years, the state has changed math curriculum requirements three times for all grades.
Like science scores this year, Scherer anticipates that math scores will increase with the move and when the district introduces iPads into middle school math instruction as part of the Department of Defense Education Activity grant the district received last year.
The Liberty College and Career Academy may also increase math scores, Scherer said, because it gives students real-world applications for math.
“Instead of just memorizing facts like the elements of the Periodic Table, it would focus more on what happens when you mix them together or how you would use them in industry or in food preparation or what effect they would have,” Scherer said.
Still, there were gains in math. Third-grade scores increased from 79 percent meets or exceeds in 2011 to 86 percent in the 2012 preliminary score, beating the state average of 80.97 percent.
The district also advanced in English language arts, as all but grade eight beat the state average and third, fifth and eighth each improved over last year.
Though the district beat the state average for social studies only in third, fourth and fifth grades, the district saw improvements from last year’s scores in third, fifth and eighth.
In reading, the district was slightly down from last year’s finals. Grades three, four, six and seven each beat the state average, but five had a rate of 90.5 compared to the state’s 91.49, while eighth was 95.5 percent compared to 95.91 percent.
The preliminary scores do not include those of the third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students who did not pass the first round of tests or those who took the CRCT-Modified for special needs, while final scores do include those.
Title Programs Director Carol Spurlin previously reported that 235 third- and fifth-graders were invited to retake the CRCT for reading or math June 25-26.
Scherer anticipates the final scores will be higher once those retakes are factored in. She said CRCT scores should be available in August.