State reports rise in most CRCT scores, including math. Is rise significant?

The state released encouraging statewide CRCT results today with system and school results coming later.

Please note in the release below John Barge’s comment on how Georgia will be able to compare its student performance to other states once we move to Common Core and its companion testing. I assume that we will see a phase-out of the CRCT and a move to the new test series being developed by a consortium of states, including Georgia.

Also notable is the rise in math scores in fifth and eighth grades. Statewide, 87 percent of Georgia’s fifth graders passed the CRCT for math this year, compared to 82 percent last year. The passing rate on eighth grade math jumped four percent, to 78 percent.

I have been reading teacher comments on this blog long enough to wonder about these basic questions about the CRCT: What does CRCT performance tell us about our students?  A testing expert once told me that states have to do a better job showing parents what a score means for their child, not just in the present but in the future. And most states, he said, have no idea what their state exam scores say about a child’s future.

Do kids with certain scores on the CRCT in middle school perform better on the state’s End of Course Tests in high school? Do high CRCTs align with high school or college readiness?

Does a low score mean the child didn’t learn the material well or the school didn’t teach it well?

From DOE:

Student results on the 2011 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) are up in almost every grade and content area.

The official statewide results of the CRCT were released today and show a one-year improvement on 23 of the 30 content-area tests. There was no one-year change on five tests and a decrease on only two tests (grade 4 reading and grade 6 English/Language Arts).

“I am encouraged that the CRCT results show many more of our students mastering a more rigorous curriculum,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “The credit for these tremendous results goes back to the local level, where they have raised the bar for all students.”

Superintendent Barge also added, “While I would like to be talking about these results from a more national perspective, we can’t use these results to show how our students are performing compared to students from across the country. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the subsequent Common Assessments, that comparison will soon become possible.”

Among the highlights of the 2011 CRCT report:

- Reading, grade 5: Ninety-one (91) percent of students passed the reading CRCT,a one-year increase of one point, and a one-year increase of 10 points in the number of students exceedin the standard.

- Reading, grade 8: Ninety-six (96) percent of students passed the reading CRCT, a one-year increase of one point and an increase of seven points since GPS implementation (2006).

- Mathematics, grade 7: The pass rate was 89 percent, an increase of four points in one year and 15 points since GPS implementation (2007).

- Mathematics, grade 8: The pass rate was 78 percent, an increase of four points in one year and 16 points since GPS implementation (2008).

- Science, grade 3: The percentage of students exceeding the standard increased six points in one year.

- Social Studies, grade 6: The pass rate was 72 percent, an increase of eight points in one year.

State law requires that students in third, fifth and eighth grade meet or exceed expectations on the CRCT in reading in order to be promoted. Fifth and eighth grade students must also meet or exceed expectations on the CRCT in mathematics. In the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade “gateway” years, more students than ever before are meeting and exceeding standards on the first attempt.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

115 comments Add your comment

R U Kidding Me?

June 9th, 2011
3:07 pm

When all students do everyday is CRCT practice drills, why aren’t 100% passing these silly tests? Have you actually seen a CRCT Math Test? It is embarrassingly easy. No wonder this country is going to hell in a handbasket — lower standards and expectations!!!!!

Garrett Goebel

June 9th, 2011
3:12 pm

Questions which we must always ask when looking at CRCT scores:
1) Which tests were revised if any?
2) Did the cut off scores change?

Hermione

June 9th, 2011
3:15 pm

I’m wondering if it is possible that the 5th grade math CRCT (or any other test that had a significant jump in scores) was easier in 2011 than in 2010.

sarfdawg

June 9th, 2011
3:22 pm

It’s a sad commentary that questions arise about the validity of the tests when the scores are up, but the teachers are to blame when the scores are down. Perhaps, for once, the teachers are doing their jobs by not only teaching to the standards but also emphasizing the importance of the tests to the students and their parents.

Congratulations elementary and middle-school teachers! Jobs well done!

justbrowsing

June 9th, 2011
3:23 pm

I actually believe that it is a good idea that we are moving towards a national model- hopefully districts will move towards holding students more accountable- the pressure will sure be there.

Waiting for a change

June 9th, 2011
3:23 pm

I am not impressed when 50% is the passing score, and when most teachers are forced to teach to the test all year.

Katie

June 9th, 2011
3:33 pm

Are you a third grade student about to take a test that they are nervous about taking, or an adult?

APS parent

June 9th, 2011
3:47 pm

Was talking with a fellow APS middle school mom, eldest in high school, and she commented that she knew the CRCT was a joke because her daughter, who was working like a dog and pulling B’s in math, got an Exceeds on the CRCT. Mother knows exactly what her daughter’s math capabilities are and believes daughter’s test scores should reflect that “B” level, and they don’t… My dauther’s assessment was that the CRCT questions this year (8th) were really easy except when it was a benchmark question – then it was really hard…

Mikey D

June 9th, 2011
3:47 pm

Thankfully, 1st and 2nd graders weren’t subjected to this test this year. It’s ridiculous to expect a 6 or 7 year old to sit still and silent for 2+ hours and have the same effort on question #70 that they had on #1. This borders on cruelty, but it’s right up the “reformers’” alley…

Dekalb Teacher

June 9th, 2011
3:47 pm

Every time there is a decrease in any type of proficiency, the negative bloggers are out in force with fangs beared ready to pounce on teachers about how inept, unprofessional, and every other degrading adjective they can think of, that they are. Now when the results show an improvement, here they are once again out in force. Will they ever give teachers some credit for doing anything right? No, they will not. It can’t possibly be that the teachers are doing something right. I teach math. I arrived early every morning to afford interested students and parents of those students the opportunity to get extra help in those areas that they either felt weak in or displayed a weakness in. I stayed after school holding tutorial for those students also. But did the credit go to those many teachers that did the same thing that I did? No, it must be that the tests were easier. With the tight scrutiny (we were not even allowed to test students in our own grade level. say nothing of our own students) they cannot say cheating was involved. So it must be something else other than credit to the teachers for the success. We proved that we are still just as dedicated as before even though pay, benefits, and everything else was cut. Teachers are looked upon as second class citizens lower than almost everyone else in our society. I don’t even hear as much criticism towards criminals, career welfare recipients (I’m not against welfare when needed, but not as a career lifetime benefit). So take your lack of support and give it to someone who deserves it.

Hmmm.....

June 9th, 2011
3:51 pm

I am flabbergasted that people are so quick to say that the test is easy or that all teachers do is CRCT drills. In case you aren’t aware, teachers teach the standards–that is the Georgia Performance Standards–and at the end of the year, students take the CRITERION Based Competency Test–it is almost like the test is based on the criterion of those standards that are taught. Imagine that.

Congratulations to all–students, teachers, and parents.

Dekalb Teacher

June 9th, 2011
3:53 pm

To those of you who think that all we do is teach the test, you need to talk to my students. They continuously asked if each thing that I taught was going to be on the test. I have never seen the test in the grade that I teach. My response (and I am being honest) is that I don’t teach CRCT; I teach math. I teach each and every area of the curriculum to proficiency, regardless of wheter or not it will ever be on the CRCT.

Veteran teacher, 2

June 9th, 2011
4:18 pm

I say it again. It is impossible to know when improvement takes place because everyone questions the test. The tests basically give us (the teachers) little to no information except for a score. The tests basically give the parents little to no information except for a score. There are many valid concerns about the validity of all of these tests. Yet, many, many, many decisions are made on the basis of these scores. Why do we put up with this??

As to the question about whether the CRCT scores have any predictable value to high school curriculum, I can only speak to math, but any score below about 840 puts the student at risk of not doing well in Math 1. A score of 790-805 virtually guarantees a failing grade on the Math 1 EOCT. Students scoring 820 or less are “officially” considered at risk. What does a passing score of 800 mean? Not much in terms of what is to come in the 9th grade. I do not claim to be painting with a broad brush here. However, I do closely analyze the scant data I have available to me.

Politicans and high level state administrators have sold out to the testing companies. Until and unless we establish higher and better standards of accountability for our leaders, we will have to continue to deal with this nonsense. I am happy to be pretty close to retirement. I truly feel for the younger teachers who will have to see this through!

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2011
4:21 pm

@Veteran Teacher, That information on math scores is very helpful to me as a parent of middle schoolers.
Maureen

catlady

June 9th, 2011
4:29 pm

Well, Dr. Barge, we might get an idea of how our kids do nationally if we used those pesky Itbs tests. But, of course, those results didn’t look so good compared to those CRCT results, did they?

The CRCT results are easily manipulated, for the good of the reputations of the state leadership. You can actually have improvement, or you can have cut scores changed, or you can rephrase the questions. Did you know that the math questions are dependent on adequate reading skills? Are national test subject to manipulation? They could be. But I am guessing they would be manipulated nationally, thus not be a “feather in the cap” for Georgia’s politicians.

Did you know there is a new “modified” CRCT? Our sped kids all passed, based on the modified version, which I still find hard to believe. And of course the most severely handicapped get the GAA.

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2011
4:32 pm

@Catlady, I keep waiting for some comment on ITBS as John Barge suggested during one campaign debate — I think the one at Inman Middle in Atlanta — that he could seeing using the ITBS since Georgia kids should be learning much of the same thing as kids in Iowa. But I have not heard the idea mentioned since the campaign.
Maureen

catlady

June 9th, 2011
4:35 pm

Ms. Downey, is it really helpful? Let’s say your fifth grader scores an 840 on the CRCT, and the next year scores an 830. Did he lose ground? You don’t know. Let’s say your daughter scores an 830 on CRCT in 5th, and then an 840 in 6th. Was her experience much better? Does the difference in 830-840 mean anything in terms of being ready for 7th? I would argue you don’t know much at all, as the test is not really valid or reliable.

ScienceTeacher671

June 9th, 2011
4:37 pm

Maureen, VT2 is precisely right about the math scores. In general, for math & reading if a child isn’t in the “exceeds” range, s/he is nowhere near on grade level for that subject.

It’s very misleading, because the state says passing is “proficient” and that is simply not true, if your definition of proficient is “working at grade level or above.”

Nathan

June 9th, 2011
4:39 pm

Anyone know where an excel or .pdf document of this years scores are. All the news articles link to last years scores.

catlady

June 9th, 2011
4:39 pm

Now, if one of your kids scored an 890 and the other an 800, your child with the 890 MIGHt be better prepared, in some way, than the other child. Or maybe not. Or it might have something to do with the difference in their reading skill, instead of math skill.

ScienceTeacher671

June 9th, 2011
4:40 pm

Maureen, catlady, when our students still took the ITBS and the CRCT in 8th grade, you could compare the two and get some idea of what the CRCT “means”. Consistently, those students with minimum CRCT passing scores in reading and math would have ITBS grade equivalents in those subjects of about 4.5 – 4.8.

substitute teacher

June 9th, 2011
4:42 pm

@Dekalb Teacher
Add substitute teachers to the list of maltreated teachers. I am a certified teacher who was nonrenewed, and because so many of us were caught in the rif (Reduction in Force) we work as substitute teachers. In addition to being mistreated by students and administrators, we are also mistreated by teachers. Most districts only hire certified teachers to substitute, and because of our many years of experience we are good, cheap labor for some districts. Not only that, but we are also often cheated out of planning periods although we should follow the teacher’s schedule for whom we are substituting.

My response to you is that everyone should be treated with respect,welfare recipients and all. If you get laid off you may become one. My philosophy in life has always been to respect others so don’t emulate the behavior of your oppressors by acting as though you should be treated better than they should be treated. Everyone should be respected, no matter what their lot in life. At one school in my district, a teacher yelled to the students in the classroom, “You all should not be out in the halls without a pass, the teacher doe not know that cause she is a substitute!!” My anwe to Mr. Lost is that most of the substitutes in your district are certified and experienced teachers. Therefore lets all just be respectful to eacher, ok? teachers!!!

East Cobb Parent

June 9th, 2011
4:43 pm

Through the years I’ve heard teachers comment they have a really bright group of kids or that the kids tend to be struggling more. Instead of just comparing this year’s 5th graders to last year’s 5th graders, why not also provide how this year’s 5th graders did as 4th graders last year. Not that you have exactly the same students, but a decent percentage are the same. As a parent I would feel that would tell me more. It would help if cut scores were constant and there was no monkeying with the data.

ScienceTeacher671

June 9th, 2011
4:46 pm

Also please note that students who fail the CRCT and are promoted anyway, or who just barely pass, are much more likely to fail high school EOCTs and the soon-to-be-defunct GHSGT, and more likely to repeat classes or be retained in high school.

substitute teacher

June 9th, 2011
4:47 pm

Before any wiseguys take a shot I misspelled a few words in my haste- “does” and “answer.” That last “teachers” should have been deleted also. Have a lovely day!!!

HS English Teacher

June 9th, 2011
4:51 pm

Ditto everything Catlady says, and emphasize that the state resets the cut scores (read “passing score”) every year. Are the cut scores set for political convenience or are students really becoming more competent in math? Educators don’t know. Parents don’t know.

substitute teacher

June 9th, 2011
4:51 pm

Also “each other” should be corrected. I’m on a roll!!! Editing and revising…sorry.

Nathan

June 9th, 2011
4:53 pm

@ East Cobb go to schooldigger.com it is a great information site that shows year to year comparisons and you can look at each grade level in each subject and track their progress. It does not take into account transfers.

A reader

June 9th, 2011
4:53 pm

As a parent I can say that I hate CRCT. Thankfully my child took her final CRCT this year because she is moving to high school next year.

CRCT is a complete waste of a week of school. The tests are for the benefit of politicians, not the student and not the teachers. And they tell me nothing at all. The CRCT score have never been an indicator of how well my child learns or how well she will perform in the next grade or even what her grades will be in the current grade.

In addition, there is tremendous pressure put on both the students and teachers to “perform”. All for the benefit of politicians. If a teacher has the majority of students make an “exceeds” does he or she get a bonus? No. If a student gets an “exceeds” does it help their grade? No. There is only negative consequences associated in not doing well.

So GA posted better results in reading and math on the CRCT than last year. So what?

catlady

June 9th, 2011
4:58 pm

SC671, don’t you love getting kids who have failed every year’s CRCT? I mean, it makes the job a lot more challenging, doesn’t it? And it is YOUR fault if they don’t do well!

substitute teacher

June 9th, 2011
5:01 pm

@ Maureen Downey:
Have you considered doing an article on the teachers who were laid off or rif(fed). There are so many that districts can now hire them as substitutes. They receive no unemployment during the summer, no benefits, and a huge cut in pay(as little as $55.00 per day) in some districts.Hopefully they will get hired, but really there is no incentive when districts can pay so little.

catlady

June 9th, 2011
5:04 pm

Sorry, ScienceTeacher671, for using the wrong “name” for you!

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2011
5:10 pm

ScienceTeacher671

June 9th, 2011
5:21 pm

catlady, what really chaps me is to get a kid who hasn’t passed a CRCT ever, isn’t passing 9th grade (or is failing it for the ____ time) and you can’t get that child tested for all the tea in China!

Were Out!

June 9th, 2011
5:23 pm

I told my daughter to go ahead and draw Christmas tree patterns on her CRCT this year.. guess what she was still in exceeds all categories for 8th grade… what does that tell you about the stupidity and time wasters these tests are!

2nd grade teacher

June 9th, 2011
5:27 pm

@ Maureen, Do you know when individual school scores will be available online to the public?

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2011
5:41 pm

@2nd grade, Matt of DOE said a few weeks.
Maureen

@ R U Kidding Me?

June 9th, 2011
5:47 pm

So you have seen a CRCT Test? I am guessing not. The Math CRCT is challenging and it measures the standard that is set by the state. You have no idea what you are talking about and you are only on this board because you like to swim against the stream. It is nay-sayers like you who drag our country down.

Nathan

June 9th, 2011
5:51 pm

@ Maureen do you know what program I need to view those.

Nathan

June 9th, 2011
5:54 pm

@ 2nd Grade June 22 for county level early July for schools.

And the beat goes on...

June 9th, 2011
5:55 pm

State School Superintendent John Barge said the new CRCT results show “many more of our students mastering a more rigorous curriculum.

“The credit for these tremendous results goes back to the local level, where they have raised the bar for all students,” he said.

If one were to go back and examine test scores for the last 30 years, one would notice a correlation between economic prosperity and test scores, and it isn’t an illusory correlation. Test scores always rise during tough economic times because there is little money for remediation expenses. Examine the economic history of Georgia while examining test score data. Correlation is not causation, but…

mothers concerned

June 9th, 2011
5:56 pm

That’s good news it could be better it’s a lot of problems with our schools and they are putting this on the news . We have more problems than that teen drop outs and Graduation tests.

Maureen Downey

June 9th, 2011
5:59 pm

@Nathan, I opened it with Microsoft PowerPoint.
Maureen

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

June 9th, 2011
6:06 pm

KUDOS to Dr. Barge for his desire to inform GA school-taxpayers about how well our kids’ academic skills compare to those of their peers throughout our nation!

Of course, our educ-rats will vigorously resist Barge’s informative efforts as the -rats recognize our SOS’s activities as injurious to their cheese-accumulation.

catlady

June 9th, 2011
6:06 pm

ST671: AND you have done YEARS of 3 week plans for RTI, where you teach them one skill for weeks and they never get it yet you can’t get the child tested.

ScienceTeacher671

June 9th, 2011
6:12 pm

@Were Out! – if your daughter really followed your instructions and “Christmas treed” the test, I doubt she exceeded in all areas. The Physical Science EOCT is no model of rigor, but I’ve had students actually fill in the answer sheet in Christmas tree patterns, and they were nowhere close to passing.

Active in Cherokee

June 9th, 2011
6:14 pm

I wish parents could take the CRCT….I think they would realize they are often not “Smarter than a Fifth Grader”.

Rumor – Teachers simply teach the test – Fact – it is illegal for teachers to look at test questions- they teach to the standards developed by the state (whether they agree with them or not) and teach test taking methods. Obviously some practice tests have been developed and are given from time to time.

@Nathan and @ East Cobb Mom – I totally agree that tracking students from year to year is the only way to track success. Comparing one class to another (ie 2011 5th graders to 2010 5th graders) is simply not valid data. It can be like comparing apples to oranges, ask any teacher. (The Gov. is actually jumping on board with this idea with RTTT-may be the only good part of the legislation)
Therefore, while worthy of noting, I find it hard to see the significance of these results

catlady

June 9th, 2011
6:16 pm

OR you DO get them tested and someone who has never been in the classroom spends a couple of hours with the kid and does a write-up that says the kid just missed the IQ target and what you should do is “move him closer to your desk” like you never tried that. And the kid is in 5th grade and 4 years behind. (You’d be willing to think he had a lousy teacher somewhere along the way, but SEVEN poor teachers?)

Teach

June 9th, 2011
6:17 pm

I teach 5th grade. My thoughts on the CRCT Tests:
1) Math Test: Very easy.
2) Reading Test: Tough. 10 passages with average length about 1 page. 5 q’s per passage.
3) Language Arts: Easy
4) Science: Fair test
5) Social Studies: Ridiculously hard. Covered Civil War through present day, plus economics and map skills.

Jerry Eads

June 9th, 2011
6:17 pm

No, no, no, and no, no, no, Maureen. There may have been an increase in PASS RATES for the crct MINIMUM COMPTETENCY TESTS. It is EXTREMELY likely that had these tests actually been PROPERLY developed and scaled to show changes in PROPERLY scaled test SCORES – not, unfortunately, necessarily indicative of increased learning – that the AVERAGE SCORES would actually have DECREASED, indicating yet LOWER demands on all students, an indication if increased focus on the VERY LOW PERFORMANCE LEVEL demanded of the MINIMUM COMPETENCY TESTS. A NINETY SIX PERCENT PASS RATE MEANS NOTHING MORE THAN A FOURTH, REPEAT FOURTH PERCENTILE DIFFICULTY. Are your reporters REALLY this naive? John Barge knows it’s time to change the basic purpose of the testing program. Are the AJC staff capable of understanding this difference?
This is NOT a problem of teacher competence. This is a problem of state middle management that John Barge needs to replace. Did you learn nothing at all from Gerald Bracey’s tutelage?