Bill to dump CRCT in early grades goes nowhere. Why?

Despite what seemed to be widespread support, two bills in the Georgia Legislature to eliminate mandatory CRCTs in first and second grade went nowhere this session.

Georgia is unusual in its mandated standardized testing in the early grades. Only one state tests in grade one, while six states test in grade 2.

This comment came to me from Caitlin McMunn Dooley, assistant professor of early childhood education at Georgia State University. I also created a Google doc – you can link to it below – in which she compares CRCT and NAEP.

House Bills 1132 and 1100, which both proposed to eliminate CRCT testing in grades 1 and 2, seem to be dead in the water. HB1100 made it through the education committee, made it to the Rules committee, but was never voted on by crossover day.

I worked closely with state Rep. Stephanie Benfield to get this legislation passed for the good of Georgia’s little kids. The bills were sponsored and supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. This would have saved Georgia more than $7 million.

I’m sick with disappointment.

At the same time, NAEP scores came out.

So, I did a quick comparison of NAEP and CRCT. I compared results from 2007 and 2009 from the fourth grade reading and math tests. I’ve attached the comparison here in a document called The Elusive Target

The math NAEP and CRCT mirror each other. Both show that our students are moving away from proficient in equal groups toward basic and advanced (although that movement is exaggerated in CRCT scores).  It’s a disturbing trend that suggests some kids are getting better instruction while an equal number are getting worse instruction.

The reading NAEP and CRCT results do not even correlate. The CRCT shows kids getting better in reading. The NAEP shows kids getting worse across the two years.

I think Dooley raises some interesting points. Please look at her charted material in the link and let’s discuss.

57 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 30th, 2010
10:41 am

Oh, good grief. Eliminating the CRCT for 1st and 2nd grade students was a no-brainer and our legislators could not even get this right. Sheesh…

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

March 30th, 2010
10:47 am

The more interesting point is that “progress” stated by the state with the CRCT scores is not corroborated by another test. Back to the “cheating scandal.”


March 30th, 2010
10:51 am

I am also very disappointed. The little ones should not have this much pressure put on them.


March 30th, 2010
10:53 am

IIRC, HB 1100 had a lot of other things in it which would have been difficult and expensive to implement. But maybe the idea of eliminating CRCT in 1st and 2nd could still be attached to another bill?

Northview (Ex)Teacher

March 30th, 2010
11:20 am

Dr. Dooley makes some excellent points. It’s shocking to see that CCRT scores in reading are inversely correlated to nationally normed tests.

Georgia is going to be losing many experienced, dedicated educators over the next years as education becomes ever more replaced with test preparation. As young teachers enter the field and see what the truth of the matter is, expect them to flee in ever-larger numbers.

The only good that can come out of this emphasis on standardized testing is that its complete and utter failure should settle the issue once and for all. However, what a high price we are paying for that result.

What did people think would happen when they put Sonny Purdue and Kathy Cox in charge of education? BTW, for someone who despises Washington so much, Sonny was more than eager to go calling with his hand out, wasn’t he?

Profound disappointment seems right on today, Maureen, but that has been the case for the longest time.


March 30th, 2010
11:28 am

Yeah, but look at the bills they did pass and the people they honored–I mean it is hard to squeeze a cost saving education bill between microchipping unwillingly, honor an American Idol reject whose pulls up his pants, and creating a new county. There are more pressing bills ahead some that include a 9,000,000 horse arena.


March 30th, 2010
12:09 pm

I worked 3 sessions at the Capitol and saw bils with strong support fade away. Some things (far too many things) just don’t get done in 40 days, and a lot of bills die on Crossover Day. A better question is why do so many details of education have to go through the full legislature? Shouldn’t the State Board or maybe advisory panels be able to make more decisions without having to compete for time with resolutions to commend the Bremen Softball Team and major changes to tax code?

cluelss, too

March 30th, 2010
12:24 pm

I don’t support testing first and second graders, but, at the same time, I don’t think tests put pressure on those kids. It’s the adults around them who put the pressure on kids.

V for Vendetta

March 30th, 2010
12:35 pm

Said it before and I’ll say it again . . .


No more Big Government.

Kira Willis

March 30th, 2010
12:49 pm

Hear, Hear, V!


March 30th, 2010
2:02 pm

Who makes money on the CRCT? Follow the money!

Joy in Teaching

March 30th, 2010
2:13 pm

@ cluelss, too

Teachers HAVE to put pressure on those young kids because administrators, instructional coaches, and the entire central office are breathing down those teachers necks to “improve test scores” at every turn.

Don’t you get it? Education these days is NOT about teaching kids…it’s all about a magic number on a poorly designed standardized test. Who cares about the kids any more?


March 30th, 2010
2:22 pm

Follow the money…..


March 30th, 2010
2:55 pm

There is evidence that Jan Jones in the Rules Committee stopped it from moving forward. If you’re in her district, could you PLEASE talk some sense into her.

Testing little kids in this way–2-3 hours at a time–does NOT MAKE SENSE. It’s unreliable at best. Abusive at worst.

Rep. Jan Jones…if you are listening out there…PLEASE help make things right for GA’s kids!


March 30th, 2010
2:56 pm

“Who makes money on the CRCT? Follow the money!”

Good point, Catlady. AJC, are you reading? I await your story.

teacher man

March 30th, 2010
3:04 pm

The CRCT is a joke.

Just a Thought

March 30th, 2010
3:16 pm

I agree that the CRCT is a joke. If they really took it seriously they would indeed follow their own policy and retain the students who failed it instead of “placing” them in the next grade. But they don’t even take their own policies seriously. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

No one really cares about educating children. If they did, they wouldn’t think firing all their teachers and giving them new ones was the miracle cure to education’s woes. Our state and national leaders are clueless about how to fix education but are too proud and too buddy buddy with corporate interests to make any real changes.

A whole generation of kids will be sacrificed up so that these testing companies can keep making their millions and our politicians can keep getting their kickbacks. C’est la vie.

crazy idea

March 30th, 2010
3:25 pm

Anyone ever boycot the CRCT? I wounder if thousands of parents keeping the kids home or writing a note excusing their child’s participation could get the attention of the legislature.


March 30th, 2010
3:34 pm

can’t boycott- there’s a make-up period when we still have to give the test- unless you want your child to miss 2-3 weeks of school…

high school teacher

March 30th, 2010
3:35 pm

Obviously, one or more of our legislators has stock in the company that makes the CRCT, or they perhaps own the company, or they have a family member who owns the company…


March 30th, 2010
3:40 pm

Obviously this is a continuation of the Republican war on Georgia’s children. Not to tax tobacco and allow Sunday sales; along with this measure is unexcuseable. If we do not invest in tomorrow’s workers this state will only attract low paying jobs. Which is why we are in this mess today. We relied too much on the construction industry with industries in carpet and lumber dominating certain regions of the state. We have done nothing but repeated history of 100 years when the textile industry collapsed. We need to invest in a smarter workforce so they can pay more taxes in the future and improve our state. Wal-Mart is a job not a career.


March 30th, 2010
3:45 pm

I hate hate hate hate with a passion that stupid test. A complete moron could pass it and yet they pressure the kids like their lives depend on passing that ridiculous thing. They spend most of the winter teaching the test, then the spring on doing the test and after that they don’t do jack. I wish it would DIE a slow painful death.


March 30th, 2010
3:51 pm

How to avoid subjecting your child to academic abuse:

(1) within 24 hours of the first day of the testing window, officially withdraw your child from the district with a note that you will home school
(2) after the testing window, re-enroll your child with a note saying that you specifically do NOT want your child tested.
(3) as long as you miss the testing window, you have legal rights.

The Problem

March 30th, 2010
4:01 pm

Why Georgia tests 1st and 2nd graders:

If you test 1st and 2nd grade students, they know the drill when they go to 7th grade (and other states start testing). So when they are compared to other 3rd grade students in different states they will look amazing since they already have been taught how to take a test.

It’s all a game. Who knows how to take a test the best.


March 30th, 2010
4:05 pm

Dear “The Problem”: According to NCLB ALL states have to start testing in grade 3. If your right about the game, GA isn’t winning. We’re regular losers. So your strategy–testing in grades 1 & 2 to get the kids ready–isn’t working. Practice doesn’t make perfect in this case. Good instruction does. And the CRCT impedes good instruction.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Bill to dump CRCT in early grades goes nowhere. Why? [...]


March 30th, 2010
4:24 pm

I hate when the AJC twists a story to say what they want it to say. For those of you who don’t know, there is a big difference between Competency Based (CRCT) and Norm Based (ITBS for example) tests. A competency test measures minimal competency of a set curriculum, where as norm tests measure where they “expect” you to be. Quite often, it is the norm tests whose validity is called into question. And while the comments from many of you might be “it was an education person who said it”, look on her website, and then compare similar studies in other states. You will find the same thing across the board-that students can meet the state curriculum, while not meeting where they are “expected” to be. Since there is no set national curriculum, tests like this must be viewed with skepicism, since what children are “expected” to know here is different than the other 49 states, and vice versa. Shame on the AJC for not giving accurate infromation.

Maureen Downey

March 30th, 2010
4:38 pm

Teacher, I have to point out that the comparison here is by a GSU professor. However, I also have to note that it’s interesting to me that the assessment results of the nation’s highest achieving states align far better with NAEP than we do. To get a sense of what to make of the “score wars,” I would suggest this balance look at the issue:


March 30th, 2010
4:48 pm

Teacher…you are right about the differences between a criterion referenced test (CRCT) and a norm-referenced test (NAEP). But shouldn’t getting better at the CRCT mean that NAEP scores rise too? And given that the population being tested is the same (Georgia’s students), shouldn’t the scores at least correlate? I’m not saying they should be the same. They should just go in the same direction.

The analysis shows that they not only don’t correlate. But while fourth graders have done better in reading on CRCT, they’ve done worse on NAEP.

Before bashing the AJC, I hope you’d take a look at the actual comparison. I think you’d agree that the CRCT is problematic.

Hank Rearden

March 30th, 2010
5:51 pm

If the schools ever do well, the GOP won’t be able to shout its anti-government mantra.

Keep in mind, this bunch we got in the legislature ain’t there because the electorate is the brightest bulb in the box.

Keep ‘em stupid! GOP 2010

Norma Rae

March 30th, 2010
6:45 pm

Personally, I despise all standardized testing. If you do research on those who originally created the ITBS, those folks NEVER dreamed that standardized testing would become the focus of teaching. I believe the AJC ran this story several years ago.


March 30th, 2010
7:40 pm

It’s hard to compare rises or falls in CRCT and NAEP since CRCT is given to almost everyone and NAEP is given to a few students in some schools. I am unsure whether it is given to a random sample of students at a random sample of schools; in the past, at our school, sped kids were oversampled.

So saying, I am very negative about the CRCt because I don’t think it has validity. In addition, what does it predict? Will a child with 37 items correct tend to do well in the next grade but a child with 35 will not? (On what are cut scores based? Does getting 37 of 70 math questions correct really show you mastered the work? What about disproportionate focusing on subjects (ie state bird in 3rd or measurement in 5th).) In addition, there is no sense in giving it as far as the kids are concerned–we send them all on anyway, ready or not, mastered the material or not, done the work or not. All it does is measure TEACHERS, and since it is based on what the student may or may not feel like doing that particular day, it does not accurately measure teachers. So it is pretty danged near worthless.

However, LOTS OF JOBS DEPEND ON GIVING A STATE-DEVISED TEST. In addition, who does the printing? Who does the grading? Who does the analysis and revision? Find the answer to these questions.

that's a bunch of ...

March 30th, 2010
7:47 pm

Joy in Teaching,

No, teachers don ‘t have to put pressures on children if they are really concerned about their students. They do so because they are more concerned about their jobs.


March 30th, 2010
7:55 pm

First, the CRCT for 1st and 2nd grades has little value since it is read to them (except for the reading passages). They bubble the answers in the test booklet and the older grades must use a separate answer sheet. Altogether different skills. The results of 1st and 2nd grade tests do not count for AYP determinations.

Second, publishers benefit greatly from the testing programs. Not only do we buy their textbooks and tests, we buy the practice workbooks, the on-line resources, and a host of other, costly JUNK that helps our kids “get ready for the test.” Cutting the 1st and 2nd grade tests, however, will only save about $2 million.

Third, the NAEP is a very well written test. It has sufficient financial backing to be maintained with high levels of integrity. The states often do not allot the kind of money needed for the same high quality tests. NAEP is also limited to just a few grade levels – 4, 8 and 12, I think. It is not administered to every student. Random school systems are asked to participate. Yes, if our tests were well written, then the scores should better align with NAEP. We do have a few problems there.


March 30th, 2010
8:16 pm

I’m taking teacher’s advice, I plan to withdraw all three of my kids for the 2-3 week window and actually home school them. I’ll return them at the end of the testing window.

I’m looking forward to this.


March 30th, 2010
8:46 pm

want to hear something else even more STUPID and repulsive? This year, for 1st and 2nd grade, as we read the answer choices for a word problem involving say, a kid having 10 cookies and getting 5 more, we cannot read and direct the kids to id the correct number sentence for the problem, we cannot read (example) 5 “plus” 10, or 5 “subtract 10″ equals…we have to say 10 “SYMBOL” 5 symbol, or 10 SYMBOL 5 SYMBOL… we are working with little kids, who are just now taking on understanding of those symbols, and we are now required to throw them this curve….I give up. We cannot read dollar signs as dollar signs, Mr. Jones as “mister Jones” nope, “M” “r” “period” Jones…stupid doesn’t quite capture this, does it? yes, this is real. Will be glad to scan the docs into pdf and send it to you, Maureen. Big Laugh, this CRCT and all the folks who produce it, make us give it, and then use it like paper mache’ to get what they want. I may have something though that will stop this….

The REAL deal

March 30th, 2010
8:58 pm


You want to increase math scores, you increase THE DISCIPLINE.

You want to increase reading scores, you increase THE DISCIPLINE.

You want to improve teaching conditions, you increase THE DISCIPLINE.

You want to improve learning conditions, you increase THE DISCIPLINE.

There is NOTHING that won’t improve if you increase THE DISCIPLINE.

Except maybe school lunches.


March 30th, 2010
9:01 pm

Catlady, the difficulty in comparing/contrasting NAEP and CRCT is that one (NAEP) has test items with different levels of cognitive difficulty which produces the scores, while the other (CRCT) has the same level of difficulty for all test items (low) but cut scores are earned by number correct. Go to the NAEP site and look at levels of difficulty. It will also help you to read a bit about Depth of Knowledge levels (google DOK and Norman Wells). most of the reading and language arts CRCT is at a DOK Level 1 (basic recall and rote procedures), mathematics now has 50% at Level 2 DOK which is better but not high level thinking. To be rated “proficient” on NAEP, a significant number of higher level items must be answered correctly. One of the DOE curriculum coordinators very honestly looked me in the eye last year and frankly said that CRCT was NOT at the level of NAEP but was moving toward it.

The biggest problem for our kids in GA public schools isn’t the testing…its that the testing DOESN’T measure the Georgia Performance STandards at the level they are written. We have very high level standards,but use a state assessment that is a MINIMUM SKILLS test and ALLOW THE PUBLIC to THINK THE CRCT MEASURES HIGH LEVEL THINKING. THAT EQUALS CHEATING!!!!

The little first grade kids in my class room are doing phenomenal thinking, they are assessed by rubrics that attempt to capture evidence of performance at the level our standards specify…NO ONE HAS EVER ASKED TO SEE THAT EVIDENCE…only CRCT test tips, get your students ready for CRCT memorandums are emailed, copied, and ….its CHEATING …anyone got a statistical formula to capture BS?

The REAL deal

March 30th, 2010
9:20 pm

CRCT, NEAP, ITBS, RTI, SST, NCLB, blase, blase. You CANNOT fix education with acronyms. And you cannot fix it WITHOUT DISCIPLINE.

high school teacher

March 30th, 2010
9:21 pm

lala, I think that you better check that information before acting on teacher’s advice. The child might have to go to summer school and take the CRCT to be promoted to the next grade.


March 30th, 2010
9:39 pm

Who creates and publishes the CRCTs? Who creates and publishes the EOCTs? What about the GHSGTs? And what about the company that produces the school attendance & gradebook software that supposedly every system in the state is supposed to use now?

Follow the money….

Keep sweeping!

March 30th, 2010
9:55 pm

Gotta make it look like they are doing something!!! The CRCT’s are so basic that it makes the state look great when over half the kids are exceeding them. So of course they aren’t going to cut it. This is the only thing that GA doe has to fake parents into thinking that their kids are doing good. This makes parents happy and kids feel good about
themselves. Keep drinking the kool-aid!

Prof Mom

March 30th, 2010
10:43 pm

You can actually pull up sample NAEP and sample CRCT questions for the same grade (although NAEP isn’t given until 4th grade. You’ll notice that almost exactly half the NAEP reading questions are based on content reading (non-fiction) and half on stories (fiction). The CRCT, on the other hand, varies in the type of passages it gives, but usually is mostly fiction. Kids tend to do better on fiction, but it’s the content reading that most indicative of how they’ll do in middle/high school/college, since that’s what they’ll mostly encounter.

Of the two, the NAEP does a far better job of classifying readers – it breaks students into groups on whether they they can answer only literal questions (basic), literal and inferential (proficient) or literal, inferential, and critical (advanced). The CRCT is an expensive waste of time and counterproductive to children’s best interests.

Free Market Educator

March 30th, 2010
10:51 pm

sci teach
I personally fought to defeat the legislation mandating the CRT’s in the early ’90’s. I researched for several years and found answers to all your questions. The waters run DEEP. Here is the book that will give you the history and the answers:
click on the e- download for the free 400 page book documenting the takeover of public education.
Iserbyt has credentials. I have personally worked with her.

Free Market Educator

March 30th, 2010
10:56 pm

Jaime Escalante: RIP
The Best Teacher in America: Taught algebra and calculus to East L.A. high school students.

Teaching in FL is worse

March 31st, 2010
5:34 am

Wow! Leave it to Michelle Malkin to get a dig in on unions in an obituary…..


March 31st, 2010
6:01 am

FME, thanks for the links!

Teaching in FL is worse

March 31st, 2010
6:16 am

FME, I will read your link during spring break.


March 31st, 2010
8:54 am

Why do we test 1st graders at all? Nobody else does. NONE of the other 49 states. Stay classy, Georgia.

Yes, somebody is making big bucks off these tests, clearly….


March 31st, 2010
3:03 pm

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times over the past 18 years………. the CRCT test is the most stupid assessment ever!!!! Why in the world are we making 6-7 year olds sit that long to take a test that does not EVEN measure progress accurately!!!! one bad morning and the whole test is shot!!!!!!
Come on Georgia………….. Do something positive for the kids and teachers for a change!!!!!!!!!