In his overruling of the Legislature’s decision to end the CRCT in first and second grade to save money, Gov. Sonny Perdue was concerned that students would not be ready for the test in third grade. “Our preference is that the Department (of Education) find a way to use the funds budgeted so that a student’s first time taking the CRCT is not in the third grade, where passage is necessary before moving on to fourth grade,” said the governor’s spokesman Bert Brantley.
It is still not clear how the state Department of Education is going to pay for the CRCT in the early grades. Brantley says the governor will work with DOE “to analyze their budget and identify a way to shift the funds necessary.”
The governor’s action reopens the debate over whether it makes sense to test such young children. Few states test these grades.
I asked GSU early childhood professor Caitlin McMunn Dooley for her reaction to the governor’s action:
I’m just so disappointed. As a parent of an up-coming second grader, this angers me that my child will be subjected to pressures, stresses, and a narrowed curriculum because of an over-emphasis on tested skills. Note that these tests do not assess the entire curriculum. They test a margin – sometimes as narrow as 20 percent — of the objectives taught across a year.
As an educational researcher, it completely disappoints me that our governor does not appreciate the heap of evidence against early grades testing. The American Psychological Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, International Reading Association, among other professional organizations, have explicit policy statements that warn against this kind of large-scale, high-stakes testing of young children. Some researchers have even called these types of tests academic abuse.
Researchers, educators, and parents know that the early grades CRCT is inappropriate. Only one other state tests in grade 1. Only a handful in grade 2. Even in these other states that have tests in early grades, their tests take an average of 30 minutes–some are as short as a 10 minute reading test. The early grades CRCT takes 2-3 hours to administer. It is unreliable as a tool to measure what kids know because it’s more a measure of their attention span than academic learning. Yet, our governor continues to put pressure on educators to use these scores as a gauge for schools and teachers.
A more reliable tool would be useful. A less time-consuming test would be useful. The early grades CRCT is not useful. I highly encourage the Department of Education to conduct a study of these tests so that we can improve the information that teachers and parents of young children receive.