Perdue’s stand on CRCT reopens debate over whether two-hour tests are appropriate for 7-year-olds

UPDATE: Here is an AJC link to statewide CRCT scores.

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.

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drew (former teacher)

June 9th, 2010
6:35 am

This testing craze is insane. At best, Purdue is just another politician who backs these tests in order to grab some federal dollars. At worst, he’s a rube for the testing companies who continue to rape public education. And of course when there are big dollars involved, greed and corruption will rule.

Testing is a business, and business is GOOD. As as matter of fact, since NCLB, it’s a BOOMING business. And it’s not always the test itself that’s so costly…the big money comes from the textbooks, study aids and “test coaches”, all designed to prepare students for the test. As a matter of fact, since the test makers decide what’s on the test, in a classic cart before the horse scenario, they decide WHAT a person should know. The first question educators have to ask is: What do we want students to know/learn? And it turns out the testing companies are more than happy to answer the question. School systems have handed the reins of education over to the testing companies who then decide “what’s worth knowing”. The testing compainies are now steering education in this country. And in the noble interest of “accountability”, the politicians have made testing a growth industry.

Here’s a nice (although a little dated) critique of standardized testing:

http://testcritic.homestead.com/files/standardized_tests.html

disappointed teacher

June 9th, 2010
7:31 am

As a first grade teacher, I was so looking forward to the coming school year when I could finally forget about this insanity of testing! The test is **3 days** of 2-3 hour test administration each day. It is absolutely tortuous for kids– they are not allowed to speak at all, even during the “generous” 10 minute break in the middle when they are allowed to “stretch”. At the age of 6 and 7, they have to be taught for months how to take a test like this. I know from experience that if they have not had generous practice with test-taking skills before the actual test is given, they will not be able to handle it emotionally. The first couple of years that I administered the test, I had children crying during the test because they were overwhelmed by it. So even though I swore that I would never “teach to the test”, I have found that it is necessary to take valuable instructional time and help children to become familiar with the format. Sad, sad, sad. Thanks, Governor!

Let's stop

June 9th, 2010
8:15 am

Can we please stop pretending that we want quality education for our children?

1st grade teacher

June 9th, 2010
8:29 am

In every first grade class that I have taught, the second section of each test is worthless data. My students have stopped paying any attention to me and begin bubbling whatever so that they can be done with the whole thing. They are falling out their chairs, whining about how long the test is. It’s awful.

catlady

June 9th, 2010
8:32 am

Agree with all above. In addition: Is the crct a reliable test? No. Is it a valid test? No. INSTEAD OF PUTTING KIDS THROUGH IT AND WASTING OUR TIME,LET’S JUST GIVE THE TESTING COMPANIES THE MONEY, AND ASK FOR NOTHING IN RETURN! It would be more honest and kinder than this.

almh

June 9th, 2010
8:36 am

I was SO happy when they said no CRCT for first and second graders several weeks ago. Perdue has made a HUGE mistake.

My son just turned 6 and will be in first grade. This past year was a hard adjustment for him and I’m worried about next year. This is an age where we need to instill a love of school and learning. This test will kill it.

Be real

June 9th, 2010
8:36 am

Did Maureen ask Bert Brantley for records of phone calls, visits, and other communications between the testing companies and Boss Hogg Sonny between the time the legislature took the tests out and Sonny reinstated them?

Of course not.

Fair Teacher

June 9th, 2010
8:54 am

It’s not necessary to prepare a third grader for a test during their first and second years in school. Believe it or not, you can prepare the child to take the test in third grade. It’s completely nonsensical to begin this process two years before it’s necessary. Children are not animals–they can learn testing procedure in the same year they will be tested–Since they must be tested.

ScienceTeacher671

June 9th, 2010
9:43 am

Follow the money….

decaturparent

June 9th, 2010
10:04 am

As a parent of three kids who have or are about to endure inappropriate testing…. I hate Governor Perdue. Georgia will be in a much better place when he is long gone. He can kiss my rear end… I think I will just hold my child out of CRCT next year. We should all do the same.

deblegs

June 9th, 2010
10:43 am

A boycottt of the test…an interesting idea!!! We talk test soosoooo much from the beginning of the year, as soon as we complete the CRCT in April it is almost impossible to get the children to respond to any new lessons. I explain school isn’t over and we have a lot to do, but even spelling grades will decline, that is enough to tell me THE TEST takes up to much of our children’s academic and emotional time.

ASHLEY

June 9th, 2010
10:46 am

This is so stupid 1st and 2nd graders need only the basics educational requirements learning simple reading , writing and math skills why does this take two whole days. Back when i was in elementary school the lessons we learned in 1st and 2nd grade help us when it came time for being promoted to the 3rd grade .learning cursive was the most challenging since we would no longer be using the fat pencil. No child should be stressed out at such an early age their will be time for that in the not so distanct future. We have become a country of promoting every child in elementary school , especially those who haven’t quite grasp everything require. Social promotion never has been the solution but neither is making a child labor over a 2-3 hour test cramming everything they learn . most of thes kids are not Einstein. but the governor seem to think they are. I know some high-schoolers who don;t concentrate that well, how can you expect 6 and 7 year olds not to become tired and listless.

You Know Who

June 9th, 2010
10:55 am

What did you expect. His qualifications for the job were that he was a Veterinarian. Of course he treats us like animals. Sonny is a joke. This state is a joke. If I could sell my house I would move anywhere but here.

RBN

June 9th, 2010
11:02 am

Analyze DOE’s budget? Shouldn’t take long, it’s been decimated during Sonny’s reign of terror. Over half the employees are paid with federal money. There is nothing left except test, poor quality test, and more test. Smartest thing Kathy Cox did was to ride that golden parachute to DC.

mypassion

June 9th, 2010
11:10 am

Mikey D

June 9th, 2010
11:11 am

The big mistake people continue to make is assuming that sonny purdue is doing anything at all with the best interest of the students in mind… He isn’t. Where are these millions of dollars going to come from to pay for this joke of a test when he can’t even meet his current obligations? Who wants to bet that we’ll be paying for these tests with more furlough days? That seems to be sonny’s method of choice for grabbing some cash. Why can’t he be like kathy cox and just resign effective immediately, rather than forcing us to endure him through the elections? I can’t wait until November when sonny and his monkey-boy bert brantley are headed for unemployment!

catlady

June 9th, 2010
11:22 am

Vote against every “friend” of Purdue’s in the fall elections. Anyone who has gone along with Sonny should be OUT on their (ears).

How do his minions, the legislators, stand for their decisions to be over-run?

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2010
11:27 am

@catlady, One of the reasons for the governor’s concern may be that there was a drop in performance on the CRCT this year in the early grades. We are reporting statewide scores later today, but I understand that reading and language dropped on one grade and math in the other.
Maureen

Let's Test To the Death!

June 9th, 2010
11:40 am

To say that giving the CRCT in grades one and two will help identify students in grade three is preposterous! In first and second grades, the majority of the test is READ aloud to the students. Then they get to third grade (which I teach) and we hand them the test, set the timer for 60 minutes, and say “start working”. As a previous poster said, all we are doing is testing their attention span. The one student I had that I wanted to retain passed with an 800 score even though he can’t read a lick and has been making failing grades all year, and the student who didn’t pass is the one who has attention problems but can read perfectly fine when he’s made to! He just finished each section in about 15 minutes and refused to go back over it. This madness has to stop.

Disgusted retired teacher

June 9th, 2010
11:45 am

This test takes longer because of the number of questions, plus the ten field questions. One area of the 2nd grade test had 70 questions, but only 60 scores were shown. This whole thing is ridiculous! I taught through two cycles of silly testing – the CRT and the CRCT. Another subjective measure is the standards based report card, which parents and most teachers dislike. What benchmark are teachers supposed to use to decide whether a student meets or exceeds a standard? You can’t really use the CRCT score and the tests written by the county have too many errors in them. It’s just up to the teacher. Plus, you could only use the CRCT score on the last grading period. The students and parents want
to know a numerical or letter grade, not just what the teacher thinks.

Parent/Teacher

June 9th, 2010
12:33 pm

Again I suggest that we as parents should lobby to have legislators retinstate the requirement that Georgia school systems administer a nationally-normed achievement test (ITBS, Stanford Achievement) at a minimum of 3 grade levels. Drop the CRCT at those grades and get a REAL picture of how students are performing in comparison to students in other states. Several posts on the previous story support the idea that this is information parents consider valid – demand that THIS is what legislators appropriate funds to use!

Oh, and the PSAT, given to all 10th graders, also serves in the same function as a nationally-normed test, so I don’t have a problem with that being reinstated. Again, MUCH more reliable than GHSGTs!

You CAN’T “teach to the test” for these nationally normed tests, so teachers might actually be able to teach their content and critical thinking skils. What a concept!

catlady

June 9th, 2010
12:35 pm

Ms. Downey, so the Gov thinks spending time testing the kids will raise their scores? And do we really care what the scores are when the test isn’t valid anyway? You can test the kid one day and get one score (the Gospel!) and then test them the next day and get a different result (the Gospel?!) Plus they have NO predictive validity. An 803 means what? in relation to a 797 in terms of past or future success? Answer: not a (darned) thing!

Let's Test To the Death!

June 9th, 2010
12:40 pm

And don’t get me started on the third grade writing test – which is another waste of money and time! All we teachers do is keep a folder of samples of writing, then we have to go over it all and fill out more forms from a testing company that basically give OUR opinion of what their writing ability is – meets, exceeds or does not meet. Then we have to send all this in to the state. Even though we have rubrics to use, it’s very subjective and left up to the teacher to decide. If we really want to do it right, we need to send their writing samples to an objective reader, not somebody who has to do this on top of all the other paperwork forced on us by the state.

catlady

June 9th, 2010
12:43 pm

In addition, the “drop in performance” you cited: this test is not the same from year to year. Not only does the test differ in difficulty, so do the cut scores. And so do the children taking the test. So worrying about test results varying from year to year seems pretty simpleminded, IMHO.

We had many more kids “pass” the test this year than in the past. Most of us who had to read the test agree that it was easier in third grade than in previous years. Yes, we did a great job teaching, but many of the kids who “passed” should not have–they do not demonstrate that level of “skill” in the classroom.

schlmarm

June 9th, 2010
12:46 pm

The educational leadership in this state is so backwards it’s pathetic. The CRCT is a total waste for all grades.

schlmarm

June 9th, 2010
12:47 pm

@ catlady 12:43, so many teachers said the same thng about the test this year. What gives?

decaturparent

June 9th, 2010
12:47 pm

BOYCOTT THE CRCT!!!!! IT’S NOT A GATEWAY TEST IN 1ST AND 2ND GRADE.

catlady

June 9th, 2010
12:48 pm

Then there is the basic question of: Does it matter? For the students, no it does not. Even in the gateway grades, if they fail, even twice, they go on. Why waste this money? Except to try to use it to evaluate teachers.

catlady

June 9th, 2010
12:50 pm

Or for other, more nefarious reasons.

catlady

June 9th, 2010
12:57 pm

schlmarm: at best, we have people putting together the test who don’t know much, and accidently lowered it. At worst, it was done on purpose, for PR (look how much better we are doing!) All grades at my school said it was easier.

Parent/Teacher

June 9th, 2010
1:09 pm

Catlady, my sister’s best friend has taught 3rd grade for many years and felt she had one of the weakest classes ever this year. (On top of which a student – finally identified as EBD and moved to self-contained – who disrupted the class consistently.) All of her colleagues were amazed when almost NO 3rd graders at their school failed the CRCT this year. CRCT results DEFINITELY conflicted with teacher observations (and professional opinions) this year…

RobertNAtl

June 9th, 2010
2:21 pm

The twins (2nd grade) learned an awful lot in the way of “test-taking skills,” i.e., filling in the bubbles all the way; the “process of elimination” strategy; looking for “context clues,” etc., etc. — the stuff the Kaplan schools teach in their SAT prep courses. Whether all this actually makes them better at reading or math is open to debate, I suppose. I know I wasn’t taught any of those “skills” in 2nd grade myself.

Teacher2

June 9th, 2010
3:01 pm

@catlady: Thank you for responding to Maureen’s comment about a drop in scores. You can’t compare apples & oranges nor can you justly compare scores from two different groups of students. That is a HUGE part of the issueS (plural) surrounding standardized testing ( as well as merit pay). I wonder how much the FACT that the STUDENTS are DIFFERENT human beings than last year’s third graders (& results to this year’s third grade results) will be reported by the AJC education team? If not, they don’t get it either.

turqoise

June 9th, 2010
3:26 pm

As a teacher, I was very happy about not having to give the CRCT test to my first graders next year. I could just teach without the stress of the test. Children in first grade are to young to be given such a long test and by the third day, they are tired and have given up. I wonder how Sonny feels about his grandchildren taking the CRCT test. Sonny has been a MAJOR disappointment to the teaching profession. I can’t wait until he is out of office. I do hope that the next governor will be more supportive of the teachers and the whole education system. Maybe the next governor needs to come into a Georgia public school during the months of January through April to see the stress of teachers as well as the students in preparing for the CRCT!

Love To Teach

June 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

What’s next a pre-school CRCT? I am a curent 3rd grade teacher, I have seen how great of a fluke that the CRCT scores can be at times. I had a student in my class score a level 3 or exceeds standards in Reading, and he can barely read. I feel like tax payer dollars can be better spent on hiring more teachers and para-professionals to reduce classroom size. We need to be able to do more quality one on one instruction for the students. The CRCT in essence becomes a test for the teachers, in which our student’s test scores are used to judge us. Some years that I felt I did my best teaching, my class had lower scores. Get the point? The CRCT is a money making, pressure-filled, joke. Shame on you Mr. Perdue. Did you ask for the opinions of any educators?

Fulton Co. Elementary Teacher

June 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

First, I will tell you exactly where they will get the money, more teacher furloughs. Count on it.

I teach second grade and because of the CRCT, the academics of a 10 month year have to be compacted into 8 months so that all skills are covered by the CRCT. Valuable time and resources are also wasted teaching test taking skills.

Around 2 weeks before the test, the school becomes an absolute circus with Test Fire-Ups etc. These are supposed to motivate and calm fears but all it does is add more disruption.

Then test day itself. The children have all been warned that they will not be allowed to leave the room to go to the bathroom for the next THREE hours unless it is an emergency. Even though I close the door and tell my kids that I will let them go if they have to, I have had two children the past two years wet their pants. Each section is SEVENTY questions. 10 minute break between. I am required to repeat after every single question “Fill in the circle next to the answer you think is best”. By question 50, the kids are reading to throw something at me.

This test is nothing more than an endurance test. And the biggest joke of all is, RARELY is anyone held back anyway in the gateway years.

I thought when I heard that the CRCT was discontinued I could survive the last bit of Sonny’s tenure. Now, this and as I said, most likely more furloughs to pay for the tests…

Angela

June 9th, 2010
4:08 pm

@Fulton Co. Elementary Teacher,

I teach second grade and because of the CRCT, the academics of a 10 month year have to be compacted into 8 months so that all skills are covered by the CRCT. Valuable time and resources are also wasted teaching test taking skills.

Around 2 weeks before the test, the school becomes an absolute circus with Test Fire-Ups etc. These are supposed to motivate and calm fears but all it does is add more disruption.
****************************************************************************************************
I too, teach second grade and I can totally agree with what you said above.

I think, if P-2 would foucs on basic skills when these students move to the testing grades of 3-5, they would be more prepared to acheive successful on the standardized test. I also, think that students should only be tested once a year if it is mandatory to test. I also, think that a specific curriculum should be designed to prepare the primary students to successfully move forward. Just my opinion.

Seen It All

June 9th, 2010
4:26 pm

This is what happens when your vote Republican. I swear to God I don’t understand it. People who vote Republican are voting against their own interests. Every sane person knows that the Republican party does not stand for reason, logic, and rationality. It doesn’t stand for the people. It plays on people’s emotions and serves only special interests.

Vince

June 9th, 2010
4:40 pm

Some thoughts….

Folks berating Sonny Perdue need to remember the CRCT was born out of (democrat) Governor Roy Barnes’ A+ Reform Act…and has been extended due to (democrat) Ted Kennedy’s and George Bush’s NCLB. Sure, Sonny had a chance to kill it in 1st and 2nd grade, but remember…it isn’t his animal.

Folks calling for a boycott of the CRCT need to remember that 95% of the students in a school need to take the test in order for the school to make AYP. I don’t think you want your property values affected negatively due to your neighborhood school not making AYP.

A good action, if you are against the CRCT, would be to write President Obama and members of Congress and let them know how the insanity of NCLB is hurting schools.

While we in education realize the importance of the CRCT in keeping our jobs…we hate it too. Many of us believe the cut scores are manipulated for political purposes.

Over the next few years there will be a drop of about 25% in the number of schools that make AYP each year….until 2014, when no one will make it unless they are a specialized gifted school.

I have about given up hope that someone in power will understand the insanity and statistical impossibility of NCLB. I thought Obama would change things….but he seems to be a part of the problem instead.

MAYBABY

June 9th, 2010
4:52 pm

We should start a BOYCOTT to X the CRCT test. Or revise it to only be taken in High School and not be REQUIRED for them to be promoted to the next grade, and to use it only to determine what the student(s) learning levels are. This TEST is taking away from our kids learning new and exciting things and/or social skills that will help them in the future as individuals. CRCT TEST! CRCT TEST! CRCT TEST! That’s all they know… :-{

MAYBABY

June 9th, 2010
4:54 pm

I’LL BE GLAD WHEN PURDUE IS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s put someone in office that really care about our kids’ futures!!!

Vince

June 9th, 2010
5:08 pm

@Maybaby

You do realize the CRCT was born out of Roy Barnes’ time as Governor….right? Remember that in this fall’s election.

catlady

June 9th, 2010
5:17 pm

One other observation: I get good effort on the first section the first day. After that, downhill for the next 2 1/2 sections. Then pretty well flatlined the last 2 days. Wonder if the state has ever contrasted the results of the first 70 minutes vs the last each day?

25-yr. DeKalb Teacher

June 9th, 2010
5:23 pm

Eight years ago, after the election of Purdue, the AJC published a statement I wrote to the op-ed section about my concerns about his leading Georgia. It was written in response to the state flag flap, the cutting of taxes (folks, you can’t get something for nothing), and education funding. It follows.

“I voted for Gov. Roy Barnes in the last election. As an African-American classroom teacher, I knew then, and know now that Barnes had a vision for Georgia. I may not a have always agreed with his rhetoric, but I always felt he was moving this state forward.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has demonstrated in an astoundingly brief time that he intends to move us in the opposite direction. How far back will he take his fellow Georgians?”

I am so frustrated with the leadership in this state. If I had children to raise all over again, I would have to seriously consider moving out of Georgia. Accountability is one thing. Inappropriate educational decisions by those who know little about the cognitive developement of children, is a travesty.

Vince

June 9th, 2010
5:28 pm

@catlady…

and it doesn’t help that math is on the 3rd day

Stephanie

June 9th, 2010
7:27 pm

Maureen- you mentioned that statewide scores would be reported today— any news yet? I haven’t seen them.

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2010
7:34 pm

@Stephanie, I sent them out on twitter and posted the URL on the blog; Here it is:

http://www.ajc.com/news/20102010-georgia-crct-results-545310.html

Also, The AJC posted the high school grad tests today by high school:

http://www.ajc.com/news/results-of-2010results-of-2010-georgia-545329.html

Educator for Life

June 9th, 2010
8:28 pm

In the future, someone is going to remove the 1st and 2nd grade tests. Then, more parents are going to scream that it’s too early for 3rd and 4th graders to get tested. When are you all going to stop arguing just to be arguing? Some of you all on here argue for the dumbest things. Get over it. Caitlin McMunn Dooley, you are arguing about your child facing the pressure this coming year in the 2nd grade. Your child will get the same pressure in the 3rd grade, so again, why are you disappointed? You may post a reply saying that 3rd graders are ready for that type of pressure!!! From a budget standpoint, I agree to drop those two grades. But, from an educational standpoint, who cares? We have other things to worry about and a lot of you are beating this to death. To the 1st and 2nd grade teachers who were looking forward to not giving those tests, get a new job and you won’t have to administer them and put those poor little kids through all of that. This is exactly why GA will be last in educational success. Born and raised here, I will continue to argue for teacher support, better pay, classroom flexibility, etc, but I don’t give a darn about who takes the CRCT test.

Educator for Life

June 9th, 2010
8:30 pm

@Vince,

If Math was on the 1st, 2nd, or 4th day, somebody would complain. I just give the tests and call it a day.