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Schools preparing students for standardized testing
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During the recent Liberty County School Board meeting, Chairwoman Lily Baker presented certificates of recognition to students who placed in the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Association and Poster Contest last month. - photo by Denise Etheridge

Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee informed school-board members during a meeting Tuesday that students and teachers are entering “crunch time” before the upcoming standardized testing periods.

The criterion-referenced competency test (CRCT) will be given March 31-April 10, and the end-of-course-test (EOCT) will be administered May 5-16, school officials said.

“The CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in the state-mandated content standards in reading, English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies,” according to the Georgia Department of Education.

Students in grades one through eight take the CRCT in reading, English and language arts, and math. Students in grades three through eight also test in science and social studies.

The EOCT is administered to high-school students in the winter, spring and summer, according to

EOCTs serve as students’ final exams in high-school math, social studies, U.S. history, economics, science, English, language arts, literature and composition courses.

Teachers are reviewing subject material in innovative ways to better prepare students for the CRCT and EOCTs, Lee said.
Each school in the district has identified where their students need help and have implemented some unique learning strategies, she said.

One elementary school held a game night to involve parents and get them enthused about their children’s pre-test preparation, Lee said.

“They set up games at different stations, with game questions appropriate to the various content and grade levels,” she said.
Another school held lessons on Saturday to offer third- and fifth-graders remediation and enhancement, Lee added. And still another school posted math facts on the in-house TV, quizzing children on math questions throughout the day, the superintendent said.

Crunch time also includes helping students hone their test-taking strategies, according to Lee.

Each class will implement a 15-minute CRCT review, and teachers will use the CRCT coach book and content descriptions, she said. This effort will incorporate test-taking strategies using actual test questions from the Georgia Online Assessment System test bank.

“Math teachers who teach coordinate algebra and analytic geometry will be using USA Test to determine specific standards that students are not mastering,” Lee said. “The students in each class will then be grouped by standard, and the teachers will swap groups of students so that each of them is focusing on particular standards. Students should benefit from the additional time working on standards that they have not mastered, as well as from hearing the material explained by a different teacher, and maybe in a different way.”

In regards to ensuring a safe and supportive environment for students and teachers, the system will continue safety drills, conduct table-top exercises and train jointly from March 25-27 with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the superintendent told the board.

She added that the implementation of the new discipline program is going well.

“Discipline infractions are down across the district,” Lee said.

The superintendent said the system will continue to “recruit and retain highly qualified and effective staff.” A system job fair is scheduled from 9 a.m.-noon March 8, and district representatives will attend job fairs at colleges and universities. Certified job opportunities also will be posted on TeachGeorgia, she said.

Lee also updated board members on the system’s first special-education awareness session that was held last week.

About 60 people attended the informational discussion, she said.

Lee said efforts are being made to improve the effectiveness of the district’s operations and administrative services by facilitating external audits of programs and operations and streamlining the employee-application process.

She said the system is moving toward an online application process.

In other school board business:

• The board approved a number of out-of-state travel requests. LCCA CEO Tom Alexander and Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Mary Alexander will attend the ASCD Conference March 15-17 in Los Angeles for a cost of $4,000, to be paid by Title II funds.

ASCD is formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Teaching and learning department personnel Susan Avant, Charlene Rocker and Jennifer Walts will attend a Scholastic Literacy Leadership Summit on March 19-21 in Boston at a cost of $100 for transportation to and from the airport. All other expenses will be paid by Scholastic Inc., said Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent for administrative services.

Avant also will attend the 2014 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics/Network Communicate Support Motivate Conference from April 9-12 in New Orleans for a cost of about $2,100, to be paid by Title II A funds.

Rocker will attend the International Reading Association’s 59th annual conference May 10-12, also in New Orleans. Her $1,100 trip expenses also will be paid by Title II A funds.

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