House bill would eliminate CRCTs in first and second grade. Hurrah or Hurrumph?

A few weeks ago, I ran into state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta) at Kroger and she told me about her bill to end mandatory CRCT testing in the early grades. House Bill 1132 has been introduced and it eliminates mandatory criterion-referenced competency tests in grades one and two.

The bill has the wide support of education groups that question the efficacy and point of high-stakes testing in first and second grades.

“This is in line with recommendations of most national professional organizations that serve young children. And it is also more consistent with national trends. Only one state also tests in grade 1. Six test grade 2 — but some states count a 5-minute reading test in that total,” says early child education professor Caitlin McMunn Dooley of Georgia State University

“The general consensus of professionals in education is that large-scale, standardized tests are inappropriate for children prior to grade 3. This is especially true in Georgia, where the test takes 110-165 minutes per day of testing. This is a very long time for 6-year-olds to sit, much less take a test. The national average of the few states that do have testing at these grade levels (total of six) is more than an hour less than Georgia,” says Dooley.

It should go to committee next week Another bill in play is state Sen. Tommie Williams’ Senate Bill 352, which is a far broader legislation that essentially rewrites testing in Georgia from top to bottom. While the bill has excellent aims, it seems to have too many ambitions and moving parts to pass this session. Perhaps, it will be stripped down to a simpler bill that focuses only on the elimination of the CRCT in the early grades.

Now, the bill states:

To amend Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the “Quality Basic Education Act,” so as to require the State Board of Education to include a growth model as a primary factor in its calculation of adequate yearly growth; to assign annual individual school ratings for each public school in this state for academic performance on designated tests; to establish thresholds for measurement of performance; to provide for criteria for school ratings; to provide for bonuses to schools based on appropriations; to provide for consequences; to provide for transmission of data from the Department of Education; to provide for audit exceptions for failure to timely provide such data; to eliminate criterion-referenced competency tests in grades one and two; to replace the Georgia High School Graduation Test with end-of-course assessments for graduation purposes beginning in the 2010-2011 school year; to revise provisions for purposes of conformity; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Take a look at the bills and let me know what you think. I think it’s a great idea.

111 comments Add your comment

d2

February 26th, 2010
12:55 pm

It should have been done a long time ago–The state has spent 21,000,000 over the past six years for unnecessary testing. That means tests not required by the NCLB. 1st and 2nd grade will save a little but do we need the Iowa Basic and the CRCT—If we were to eliminate the testing not required by the NCLB that would save the state 21,000,000 a year. Just the last six years we have spent 126,000,000 just think of what that could have done for the Schools. Why stop at 1 and 2nd grades-what is that a savings of–I think I read an estimate of 700,000–what ever it is at least it is a savings–But we need to go further and eliminate the other unnecessary testing.

teacher/parent

February 26th, 2010
12:57 pm

It’s a start. There are other isssues at play as well. This is just a short list off the top of my head.
1) Many of the mandated tests are not standards based, but our curriculum is.
2) There is no accountability for students if they do not pass. There MIGHT be some remediaition (best case scenario) or cram sessions and changing answers on answer sheets (worst case scenario)
3)In high school students are required to take End of Course Tests in some subject areas AND the High School Graduation Tests in five core areas.
Stop the testing madness ESPECIALLY if there is nothing done when students do not ‘meet expectations’ (I’m not even going to use the word pass)

Meme

February 26th, 2010
12:57 pm

Yipee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meme

February 26th, 2010
12:59 pm

The test should only be given in the 3rd, 5th and 8th grades since they are ‘required’ to pass in thoses grades.

Hey, It's Enrico Pallazzo!

February 26th, 2010
1:03 pm

It would be a small victory to eliminate the CRCT for first and second graders. It will be a bigger victory when we realize that standardized testing does not equate to improved learning. When will we let our teachers teach our children? They spend more time prepping for these standardized pre-tests, post-tests, evaluation tests, CRCTs, ITBSs, etc.

If all the teachers have to teach from a script, just hire a professional actor to do the lesson plan, tape it, send it out to all the schools, and eliminate the teachers. Think of the money it would save!

jim d

February 26th, 2010
1:08 pm

two small steps in the right direction

clueless

February 26th, 2010
1:12 pm

Might save some $$$$. Now to get rid of either EOCTs or GHSGTs…

devildawg

February 26th, 2010
1:13 pm

Testing first and second graders is a complete waste of time. Let them stick to classroom learning and testing and they will be fine. The whole scripted lessons thing is what really needs to go. Its ridiculous that teachers are being made into robots, and being made to teach the exact same way. Teachers should have the flexibility to use their individual talents and strategies to teach in the most effective way for them and for their students. If the teachers that are hired aren’t talented enough to do that, and need a script, then don’t hire them. I have a huge problem with marginally qualified people that come from some joke of a college being allowed to teach young people. And whether you all want to believe it or not, there are a lot of less than qualified people in our state’s schools.

devildawg

February 26th, 2010
1:14 pm

Get rid of scripted teaching, teachers shouldn’t be turned into robots.

devildawg

February 26th, 2010
1:14 pm

And if they aren’t good enough teachers to do their own thing and be successful, then don’t hire them in the first place.

what's right for kids???

February 26th, 2010
1:17 pm

I agree that the testing for the little ones is unnecessary. I also think that parents, if they so choose, should be able to opt their children out of testing altogether .

Charles

February 26th, 2010
1:18 pm

The only problem with not testing is some measure of a child’s skill level other than the teacher. With only one persons “evaluation” kids are passed on without an outside status report. We know from earlier studies “see Light’s Retention Scale” that retention is really only effective when it happens in K or 1st grade. Waiting for 3th grade to retain – if needed – is too late. Poor habits or weak skill levels cannot be corrected at this stage. (they can in some cases but rarely are). So as parents we can only rely on one teacher’s opinion about where our child is academically – and I would prefer an outside, unbiased opinion. Teachers opinions are too easily swayed by principals and what parents want to hear. I want something more subjective that will let me know how my child’s level compares to kids in Georgia and the nation. I can’t wait until s/he is in third grade.

Allen

February 26th, 2010
1:19 pm

CRCT is a joke. It does not measure teacher performance. You can’t compare teacher A to teacher B with a quantitative test (or teacher A this year to teacher A next year) without controlling the 3rd variable–the students. And you can’t control that variable–it would mean having teacher A and teacher B teaching the exact same 20-25 kids, or teacher A teaching the exact same 20-25 kids every year

Chiefdawg

February 26th, 2010
1:20 pm

If you got rid of testing adminstrators would have nothing to do. They would have no reason to stay on teachers backs and tell them what to do and how to do it.

Teacher&mom

February 26th, 2010
1:24 pm

Great idea. If I were running for Governor or State School Superintendent, I would jump all over this one. If only we could get back all that $$ flushed down the toilet of standardized testing….

Larry

February 26th, 2010
1:26 pm

If only we could erase the “two,” change it to “eight” and have a perfect score…

Maureen Downey

February 26th, 2010
1:31 pm

Larry, I think there is evidence that can be done.
Maureen

NCLB

February 26th, 2010
1:35 pm

the first sentence in NCLB is the student will come to school ready and prepared to learn. Everyone right then should have went whoa, and 100% on grade level by 2014, have you lost your &*^%#@! mind. The politicians do not seem to be listening to us. Change it and change it now; November can not come soon enough.

Education in America????

February 26th, 2010
1:36 pm

I am a 20+ year teacher and disagree with the entire premise that CRCT’s need to go. I have also been employed in business, construction and the military and of all the areas I have been employed within education is the worst at evaluating their employees!!! Flat out many teachers are worthless at their chosen profession for either lack of caring or lack on necessary skills. Not that all athletic coaches that also teach academic areas are terrible but the vast majority are pretty pitiful. Think back to the coaches/teachers that you personally had…were they among the great teachers you ever had? Leave athletic bias out of the equation because many can be great coaches (which is why they entered the profession) but they truly should not be in an academic classroom.

CRCT’s, GHSGT’s, EOCT’s, SAT’s, ITBS’s…etc. Are needed tools to ensure educators are meeting a very minimal standard. The true shame is when a school system deems itself worthy when a certain percentage attain a passing mark. These tests mostly only test for minimal knowlege rather than for excellence. But at least they offer some measure to see if schools are doing their job!

Education in America????

February 26th, 2010
1:40 pm

Why do school systems simply not hire professional educator evaluators that look at a myriad of teaching skills to determine the retention of teachers? Use test scores but also many other criterea and have the evaluators randomly watch teachers for a minimal of ten times per year. If this were done properly on any given year there should be a minimal of 10-15% of teachers fired each year for incompetence.

Maureen Downey

February 26th, 2010
1:40 pm

Education in America, Does the tool for first and second grade authentication of minimal standards having been met have to be a CRCT? Is there another way – a shorter test, a measure of progress approach done every few months — that could work as well?
Maureen

Ed Johnson

February 26th, 2010
1:43 pm

Yes, but consider House Bill 1100 that includes the carrot “to eliminate criterion-referenced competency tests in grades one and two.”

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/fulltext/hb1100.htm

Why the carrot? To more easily slip in increasing the chances for least needy schools to get extra funding through school grading. “A,” “B,” and “C” schools would get extra money while “D” and “F” schools would get more neglect.

Watch out that HB 1132 isn’t just a manipulative to first drop CRCT in 1st and 2nd grades then later implement school grading.

Sunny Daze

February 26th, 2010
1:43 pm

Good. Dekalb County wont need nearly as many erasers now.

d2

February 26th, 2010
1:47 pm

To Education in America
When you speak of educators you said you spent 20 years as a teacher- ARE you one of those useless teachers you speak of? I am so tired of teaching bashing and public school bashing.

Sick&Tired

February 26th, 2010
1:51 pm

There needs to be some kind of skills test in Math and Reading in the 1 & 2 grade. If you don’t catch problems in earlier grades it will continue to progress into the 3rd grade. I don’t believe it should be depending upon a pass or fail for the opportunity to promote or retain. But, a skills test that can be used to identify the areas that need to be worked on in a structured environment (after-school tutoring, non-school program and/or summer school). There are not enough free or low income after school tutoring programs, with transportation.

I believe wholeheartedly that if a child is successful in grades (1 – 4) they will continue that success in middle school and highschool. If they struggle at that level, it’s almost a lost cause to get them interested in education while in middle school.

FredGT

February 26th, 2010
2:00 pm

Very good. My twin 1st graders and their teachers are stressing out over the April CRCT. They are not prepared at this point for the stress and expectations of this testing. I agree with this starting in 3rd grade, but no way in 1st grade.

Reality

February 26th, 2010
2:00 pm

This is horrible. All grades need to be held accountable. Student will now be allowed to “sleep” through 1 and 2 grades. Then the 3 grade teacher will be blamed because their students do poorly.

What is wrong with accountability?

I am a high school teacher. Before the CRCT we got horribly prepared students from middle school. And, I was blamed when the students failed even though they failed because they never learned the middle school material. At least now, I know that most students have some minimum amount of knowledge walking into my room because of the CRCT.

Reality

February 26th, 2010
2:02 pm

FredGT – Give me a break. If the teacher had been preparing the students all year long, there is no need for anyone to stress. The CRCT has such very basic material, most any child can pass it with just a little tiny bit of effort.

The lesson to learn is that testing is an OPPORTUNITY to shine, not a stressful event.

teacher

February 26th, 2010
2:05 pm

For anyone who thinks that the CRCT is the best way to know what kids in grades 1 and 2 know, think again. The APA, NCTE, IRA, NAEYC, and other organizations specifically say that standardized tests of this sort are unreliable. They take 2-3 hours to administer–to SIX YEAR OLDS. It’s more a test of stamina than knowledge. Suggesting that CRCT is a tool to know what kids know is like suggesting that we use an X-ray to understand heart failure–it doesn’t make sense! It’s a tool alright, but not an appropriate one.

Teachers and district leaders can AND DO use plenty of other tools to understand what kids know. The state does not have to legislate this. It’s about assessment, not accountability.

RJ

February 26th, 2010
2:07 pm

@Education in America????, my experience regarding coaches has been entirely different. Physical Education teachers are required to take several science courses. When I’ve been forced to sit in science workshops they knew more about the body than the science teachers! While PE may not be considered “academic” it is a necessary course. In my schools PE teachers taught PE, not math. All coaches were certified physical education teachers. I had more “useless” math teachers that understood how to work a problem, but couldn’t explain it to a kindergartener. There response was always, “What do you mean you don’t understand, this is easy!”. That’s code for I have no idea how to explain this to you. My daughter has had the same experience recently.

RJ

February 26th, 2010
2:09 pm

Glad to see this test leave. I’ve witnessed 6 year olds crying because they were so scared of not passing; the teacher had stressed them out! Now to end EOCT and GHSGT!

teacher

February 26th, 2010
2:10 pm

Also, for anyone who thinks that a test is a test is a test: Please understand the importance of the age group here.

These are kids who have been alive and on this earth for six years at least, eight at most. This is different from a high-schooler taking a test. Children at these ages are developmentally unequipped to handle stress in the same ways as adults. And they don’t have the same communication skills. So before recommending something that’s good for ALL students, please remember that children develop social, cognitive, and communicative skills over time.

That’s way we don’t make first graders take drivers ed!

d2, please!

February 26th, 2010
2:19 pm

@d2: Teachers lose credibility as professionals when you defend BAD teachers. There are bad people in every profession, including education. Do you not think there are awful teachers? Look around your school, they are there. I hope you do not find one in your mirror!!!!!!!!!

Legend of Len Barker

February 26th, 2010
2:19 pm

For the sake of my former comrades, they need to drop it at the middle school level. Every year of NCLB and CRCT takes off two … of their life expectancies.

I can make you the argument that not only is CRCT not an accurate way of testing, it may be the worst way. Since the school’s academic livelihood depends on student performance on this week of tests and this week alone, it’s terrible. The heck with if a student has his or her best week in February, October, or late April. You better have your best week now, kiddos. We don’t even care if you lost Rover this morning. The state doesn’t measure character or emotion. Just cold, hard facts. And possibly not even the cold, hard facts that your teacher prepped you for. These are the cold, hard facts that a group of GA DOE representatives that likely haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since Pierre Howard was running for governor think you should know. Or drew out of a hat. After seeing questions off the Georgia History exam, I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter.

I’m inclined to believe that the kids are doing worse. We have been taught to be so scared of CRCT – and for good reason – that we are starting test prep in August and not letting up, even during the week of the test. The kids hate it. I hated it. But what else were (and are) we to do? We can’t hope that the kids retained enough from year to year.

It’s not just the kid that’s at stake, it’s the grade at stake, it’s the school at stake, it’s whole county at stake. Regardless of whether you are Echols County, Gordon County, Richmond County, or Laurens County, you’re all the same. Echols has one school. Richmond has dozens. If one of Richmond’s schools fails, it counts just the same as it does in Echols. The whole county fails.

Cherokee

February 26th, 2010
2:21 pm

Hooray! Tommie Williams’ SB 352 and David Casas’ HB 1100 would eliminate these tests too. Plus the high school grad tests.

what's right for kids?

February 26th, 2010
2:35 pm

Reality wrote, “This is horrible. All grades need to be held accountable. Student will now be allowed to “sleep” through 1 and 2 grades. Then the 3 grade teacher will be blamed because their students do poorly.”
How many first and second graders do you know who sleep through school? The little ones love school! They love learning! When you make school a hoop to jump through and a test to pass, they get a bad taste in their mouths. Then they decide that school is not fun, nor is learning. That’s when test scores go down and students do sleep.

Accountability should be in place for teachers, yes, but can’t accountability be utilized and implemented by asking the students what they are learning? Can’t kids learn by playing? Isn’t that how they learn best at this age, anyway? Why is testing a 6 year old who can’t sit still for 2 hours a good idea, anyway?

Just Teach

February 26th, 2010
2:41 pm

Wow! It’s about time. We are testing and wearing these young ones out–not just 1st and 2nd graders, but the other students as well. It has been my contention that these standardized tests are useful for some things, but a total misfit for others. I am not an educator, but I think that most teachers know what is best for their students. It is quite amazing how we look for ways in improving learning, but somehow we end up applying more pressure to learning. I didn’t learn this way in the past; and quite frankly thousands of folks before the “test ‘em scared” era didn’t either. Testing is fine when appropriately applied and measured; short of that, it is just another machine at work that can lead to more controversy.

Sunny Daze

February 26th, 2010
2:47 pm

We have quality teachers with good intentions here in Georgia. Get to know a few and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I was watching the news last night and saw an interview of a couple of New England teachers involved in the well heralded mass firing. They stated students vary from district to district with regards to their motivation, skills and ability to grasp concepts. They happened to be in a district where the scrubs were settled. That may sound harsh but I believe it to be reality. It’s a crying shame when Dekalb county school adminitrators feel they have to resort to changing test scores(allegedly) just to try to compete with other counties and try to retain their jobs. I know many of you “No child left behind” folks will disagree with what I say but ask an experienced teacher who instructs pupils day in and day out and I think they will agree that across the board testing does not work. We may see more of these mass firings in certain school districts but that doesn’t make it right.

Charles

February 26th, 2010
2:56 pm

Let’s be careful before we throw the baby out with the wash. What is there to replace the CRCT so that we are not solely relying on one classroom teacher’s opinion. I’d like to see how my child is compared to others his age across the nation – not just one class.

ABC

February 26th, 2010
3:07 pm

Would this be valid for this year? Our school does CRCT right after spring break in April.

Interested Participant

February 26th, 2010
3:09 pm

Many schools, ourselves included, do Universal Screening of ALL students K-5 for both reading and mathematics. We test all of our students at the beginning of the year, middle of the year and end of the year to identify those students who many be below grade level in these areas. These research-based diagnostic tools take about 5 minutes per child to administer. We get a bunch of staff together because it is administered one-to-one (one staff member to one student), and do the entire 800 student Elem School in 1.5 days or so. So even without the CRCT in grades one and two, we would still be able to identify those kids who were struggling. Kids that are identified at risk by these screeners are placed in our intervention programs for extra help.

td

February 26th, 2010
3:09 pm

There has to be some type of measuring tool in place in the early grades to make sure children have some basic level and ability to do math and read. These are the most important years and if the children can not master these skill sets then their educational experience will suffer for their entire educational experience. These test can be done away with in the 4th, 6th, 7th grades because they are a waste of time, money and educational time or the student. Students who do not meet minimum competency in 3rd, 5th and 8th grade should be held back and not passed on to the next grade.

NA

February 26th, 2010
3:10 pm

@ Reality and Charles—Students are already being ignored in grades 1 and 2. There is a mountain of paperwork involved w/ retaining them and many would rather “let the test catch them” in 3rd grade. The 2nd section of my 1st graders’ CRCT is not reliable. By that point in the test, they are falling out of their chairs, ready to quit. They are no longer reading passages, but just bubbling in to be done.

Sick&Tired

February 26th, 2010
3:11 pm

Charles – you are spot on. A comparison across the state, county and internal classrooms is very important. It also gives us the opportunity to compare what is being covered across the board, because I have seen in many cases where a teacher didn’t cover a topic.

DunMoody

February 26th, 2010
3:15 pm

ITBS is a better indicator of student achievement than the CRCT. Since the latter is an instrument of the Georgia Department of Education, it’s suspect at best, overkill at worst. We need a national standard of comparison across all states, not a “test du jour” as Georgia reinvents the wheel over and over again. (Mad Math, anyone?)

Sick&Tired

February 26th, 2010
3:20 pm

NA – may be the suggestion should be to increase the number of days allowed to take the CRCT and only for a couple of hours a day for 1st & 2nd grade.

I’m way past elemenatry school with my child, but I would have hated to find out in 3rd grade (april) that my childs reads or performs math at a 1 or 2nd grade level.

If not CRCT, there need to be some level of skill test for these kids. I don’t like the idea of depending on the report card grades.

Also, I’m almost 40 and my elementary school tested almost every year. I’m positive I was tested in 1st and 2nd grade. I’m not from Georgia(my dad is) and I have always been disappointed in the way education is administered in this state.

Ned Zeffer

February 26th, 2010
3:23 pm

Legend of Len Barker is correct. I recently retired after 30 years on the front line. NCLB is a farce. The CRCT is a joke. Together they are killing everything in education. And it is ludicrous to evaluate a whole year’s worth of “learning” with these bogus evaluations. Teachers are professionals with professional degrees. It is time we treated them as such and trusted that they can educate our children without help from politicians. We don’t trust politicians to oversee health care reform. So why do we trust them to make rules for education?

Get rid of the CRCT and let teachers teach again.

teacher/parent

February 26th, 2010
3:28 pm

Accountability and testing are NOT synonyms. You can have one without the other. Besides, even the proponenet of 1st and 2nd grade testing suggested that the results not be used to retain but to remediate in non-school programs. You can’t have that kind of disconnect and expect results. Plus you assume that after some remediation the kids are up to speed, not necessarily the case.

The bottom line is UNLESS you are going to retain and remediate until the kids get it, then testing is useless. If we’re testing just for the sake of testing, it is a huge money pit.

jim d

February 26th, 2010
3:37 pm

poppy cock— if you really want to know what a first or second grader knows—simply ask them –their bluntness will be simply entertaining

jim d

February 26th, 2010
3:38 pm