CRCT scores are in: What do they tell us this time?

The state released state CRCT scores by system today, with strong metro performances by students in Cherokee, Fayette, Decatur and Buford.

Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.

The longer I report on education, the less comfortable I am with test score results, which often speak more to the affluence of the families in a district than the proficiency of either the schools or the teachers.

I think a fairer comparison is to juxtapose scores in systems with similar socio-economics. If you are interested, here is the AJC database that will allow you to look at district performance.

A DeKalb parent has already looked at that system’s scores and noted that, “If you go look at the score report, you will find that in 8th grade, DCSS had lower pass rates than either Clayton or Atlanta in 8th grade reading and math.  In fact, Clayton’s pass rate for reading (8th grade) was actually 2 percentage points higher than DeKalb.”

According to the AJC:

For example, among eighth graders who must pass the math portion of the CRCT to automatically be promoted to ninth grade, the statewide passing rate was 77.7 percent. In Atlanta Public Schools, the passing rate was 65.9 percent, and in Clayton, it was 68.3 percent. By comparison, the passing rate on that same test was 89.6 percent in Cherokee County, 93.4 percent in Fayette County, 86.8 percent in Buford and 94.6 percent in Decatur.

Forsyth County, an affluent north Atlanta suburb and traditionally a top test performer, had a 96.9 percent passing rate on the eighth grade math test, the best reported in the state.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog


199 comments Add your comment

Dr NO

June 22nd, 2011
10:28 am

“Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.”

mmm Hmm.

Write Your Board Members

June 22nd, 2011
10:29 am

In other states, schools and systems are only compared to their socioeconomic peers. Comparing DCSS to Atlanta and Clayton is a good starting point.

EdDawg

June 22nd, 2011
10:36 am

SES does matter.

Dunwoody Mom

June 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

What do standardized test scores tell us in isolation rather than in a “big picture” mode? Not a darn thing.

ScienceTeacher671

June 22nd, 2011
11:06 am

They tell me that our high school math teachers are going to have to perform miracles if we’re to continue making AYP.

No excuses please

June 22nd, 2011
11:08 am

Teachers have been saying for DECADES that you need to compare apples with apples – but we were told that we’re just making excuses- and you know, we’ve entered a “all children can learn”, “everyone can go to college”, and this is a “no excuse zone”. Maureen, are you sure you want to get in the camp with teachers?

Dunwoody Mom

June 22nd, 2011
11:11 am

In comparing the 8th grade DCSS scores 2010 vs 2011, the only categegory that saw a decrease was ELA from 88.1% passing in 2010 to 87.1% passing in 2011. All other categories either stayed the same or went up a bit.

AJC is biased

June 22nd, 2011
11:18 am

It shouldnt matter if the children come to school in a Mercedes or a Yugo but leave it to the AJC to make it a class envy issue. Thats why they are continuously losing readership. If a teacher stinks then he\she should be fired! The unions and the outdated employment rules dont allow that so we are stuck with inferior teachers. Let the parents choose where their children go and you will see scores improve. The simple fact of the matter is competition works!

Anon

June 22nd, 2011
11:29 am

Forever and ever it will be this way. Wake up people!

Nikole

June 22nd, 2011
11:30 am

@ AJC is biased—You are wrong on so many levels, I just don’t have energy to go through it all today. But let me say that when you allow students to go to whatever school they want, you won’t see all schools succeed, but the students that were struggling at their old school, will struggle at the new one. And all of a sudden, that successful school will now be labeled a failure. And you will also be upset that your precious school has been overrun by “undesirables” and will be looking again, at trying to change schools.

Nikole

June 22nd, 2011
11:32 am

@ Ajc is biased—-No unions in GA, for the umpteenth time! Pay attention to the stories of retaliation against teachers that speak out! Wouldn’t happen in a union state. Principals can fire ineffective teachers by following proper procedures.

David Sims

June 22nd, 2011
11:33 am

“Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.”

Of course they did. And they’d still have the lowest scores even if, every day, you flew over those areas in an airplane while scattering a million dollars in the breeze. They’d have nicer cars, but their test scores would still be low.

“The longer I report on education, the less comfortable I am with test score results, which often speak more to the affluence of the families in a district than the proficiency of either the schools or the teachers.”

Wrong. What you are noticing is a racial gap in academic performance, which has a biological cause. Your insistence that the cause of the gaps is economic has, itself, a political cause. You leftist, you.

Expecting social interventions to remedy problems caused by innate racial differences is like expecting to douse fires by throwing gasoline on them, or expecting brick walls to puff into vapor for your convenience. Wise up. You’re wrong.

amazed

June 22nd, 2011
11:34 am

The scores tell us APS isn’t cheating as much as they used to.

Actually, just looking at 3rd grade, APS generally did better than DCSS in average scores and percent exceeding. Not by a lot, they were pretty close, but they did do better.

What is AJC’s terminology, “half true?” Any socio-economic group can learn. Maybe the higher income areas will get higher average scores, but that doesn’t mean massive numbers in APS and DCSS should fail the tests. And not all affluent areas do well.

North Atl H.S. Teacher

June 22nd, 2011
11:42 am

We need a union, badly. Our rights, our voices, in Georgia need to be respected and heard today.

Unpopular Opinion

June 22nd, 2011
11:46 am

Fault is with the “parents” more than anyone else.

Look at Decatur, which is an economically, culturally and racially mixed area. It’s pass rates are high. Why? Decatur is a more expensive area to live in than many of the other nearby areas. People pay the higher taxes or rent to be in a school district that achieves. One can assume the parents who make this sacrifice will also be more involved in their student’s homework, school life and education. That, in turn, would attract the best teachers, who are going to produce the best students.

People in more affluent areas are usually more involved, but ignore that fact and blame the numbers on a cultural bias is plain, flat-out wrong. Parents need to accept their responsibilities. Parents shouldn’t expect schools to employ miracle workers to do the parents’ jobs.

Decatur School District’s numbers show that it’s not the child’s socioeconomic status that dictates achievement, it’s parental involvement.

Dr NO

June 22nd, 2011
11:56 am

David Sims

June 22nd, 2011
11:33 am

You said it brother!!! The liberals refuse to accept what is fact.

Affluence is gained, more often than not, via personal responsiblity. Here again is the “haves” vs the “will nots”.

Active in Cherokee

June 22nd, 2011
11:58 am

“The longer I report on education, the less comfortable I am with test score results, which often speak more to the affluence of the families in a district than the proficiency of either the schools or the teachers.”

Even still – congratulations to the students and parents of Cherokee and the other high performing districts. They still deserve props for doing a wonderful job!

Write Your Board Members

June 22nd, 2011
12:00 pm

Dunwoody Mom

The scores in DeKalb were basically flat and are among the lowest in the state. They are the lowest in Metro Atlanta.

There was an improvement in social studes but more than 4 out of every 10 8th graders failed the test. In science, HALF THE EIGHTH graders failed. HALF. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? In math, one in three failed. Actually a little more than one in three. THIS IS BAD.

I am not a fan of standardized testing, but I gotta tell you these scores paint a pretty bleak picture of instruction in DeKalb.

David Sims

June 22nd, 2011
12:04 pm

How I wish that I could post images here, so I could present charts showing SAT scores and CRCT scores as a function of the “Percent of the population that is White or Asian.” I’d expect a very high positive correlation in the spread of dots, few (if any) of them far from from the least-squares fit that I’d supply along with those points.

I’ll bet that Maureen COULD do this. I’ll also bet that she won’t.

@Nikole, unions can get out of hand, too. Just because you shift power from one side to another doesn’t mean you improve longterm functioning of the system as a whole. It sometimes means only that failure will occur from a different cause. Also, unions don’t always do what they are supposed to do; they can be subverted or hijacked. Their leaders can deceive and betray their members.

The same thing can happen to an entire national government, but that’s another story.

Maureen Downey

June 22nd, 2011
12:04 pm

@Active, I believe that Cherokee, Fayette and Forsyth deserve credit for jobs well done, as there are systems with similar strong financial demographics that are not scoring as well. I would especially credit Cherokee as I think it probably has a greater range of incomes within its schools.
Maureen

Dr. John Trotter

June 22nd, 2011
12:05 pm

Even 15 to 20 years ago, APS would often do better than Clayton County on the tests for elementary students. Why the drop when the kids get to middle school? First, the middle schools in APS have had horrible leadership with virtually no discipline established in the schools. The hormones are hopping, and the kids have gone wild. Second, many of the students from the affluent Morris Brandon, Sara Smith, E. Rivers, and Warren T. Jackson Elementary Schools skip the middle and high school years in APS for the more exclusive private schools.

Dr. John Trotter

June 22nd, 2011
12:07 pm

You have discipline in Fayette County Schools. I know. My sons attended Fayette County Schools. Matthew is still a student there. Robert just graduated.

Incredulous

June 22nd, 2011
12:10 pm

There was a 20/20 show, I believe, that basically accused 29 states of devising there own tests, manipulating the data, and creating smokescreens with the results. What surprises me is the number of concerned parents and teachers that are willing to ignore the low, low, low expectations and cut off scores for these tests. Please Maureen, inspire some investigative journalism and discover who is getting paid for these tests and what their realtionship to the state might be.

jsmtih

June 22nd, 2011
12:11 pm

unpopular opinion …… hit the nail on the head !! it really is that simple

Dunwoody Mom

June 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

@Write you Board Members – there is no need to yell. I was simply making a statement.

another comment

June 22nd, 2011
12:18 pm

Smaller districts, made up of smaller area’s are the answers. Look at what you are saying, Buford, Decatur, Marietta all out perform Gwinett, Dekalb and Cobb as a whole, but are diverse. They are made up of the immediate Cities. Parent’s don’t have to worry about the politics of these 50,000 to 150,000 student mega districts. You have small town districts, with one maybe two high schools and its feeder schools. They even accept outside students for modest tuition. In the case of Marietta, your student can go to the 6th grade academy if they can get accepted if they live in Cobb County for only $3,000 in annual tuition. This is a real deal vs. going to Campbell Middle School with its 99% free lunch and 99% minority. The only other option if you are white and middle class is to go to private school is to pay $12,000 to 22,000 for private school.

Small community based school, get more community involvement. Less people being not involved. Live in a small village, small town, everyone shows up for the parades, the community festivals, the volunteer days at the schools. People don’t scam for free lunch, they don’t scam for food stamps. the clerk in the grocery store or lunch lady might be their next door neighbor or go to their church. The rest of the village might know they aren’t reading to their kids. Or better yet, the elderly man or lady next door might volunteer to help your stuggling child to read or do math, in exchange for some help with chores around their house.

Write Your Board Members

June 22nd, 2011
12:19 pm

Dunwoody Mom

I am sorry for yelling, but I am so frustrated and disappointed for students in DeKalb. I know the myriad of problems with the test and I am particularly concerned that cut scores are artificially low. That makes the situation in DeKalb even worse.

DeKalb is being outscored by nearly every other system in GA. And many of those systems have lots of ESOL students, poor students, etc. Worse yet, many of those systems have far fewer financial resources than DeKalb.

Vince

June 22nd, 2011
12:22 pm

What do CRCT scores tell us?

1. The cut scores and expectations are too low. Compare these scores to the ITBS if you want sticker shock.

2. Economic level does matter….more than anything.

3. Gwinnett must be doing something right! Their scores are actually higher than Buford City and on par with Decatur City (which the AJC highlighted for good results). Gwinnett, a majority-minority district substantially outperforms Cobb and Fulton!! Can they share their secrets??

Dunwoody Mom

June 22nd, 2011
12:26 pm

And I don’t disagree with you. That the Board of Education, the Dekalb Chamber of Commerce, etc., could look at these scores and not have any urgency to hire a permanent superintent is beyond my comprehension.

Vince

June 22nd, 2011
12:27 pm

@ another comment

Go back and look at the scores again. Gwinnett’s scores are MUCH higher than Marietta’s, a little higher than Buford’s and about the same as Decatur’s.

Gwinnett, more than even Forsyth and Fayette must be doing something correct.

concerned teacher

June 22nd, 2011
12:28 pm

@Incredulous…That’s what parents need to be worried about cut scores…you could miss 1/2 of the questions on any section and still pass the test! So did they really pass. A mean score in the 830’s means that the students missed about 20-30% of the questions and most sections had 50 or 60 questions. A passing score of 800 means they got 50% correct to pass. That’s it.

Maureen Downey

June 22nd, 2011
12:30 pm

@Vince, Despite the criticisms of Gwinnett as an autocracy, I have met talented educators who have left DeKalb and gone to Gwinnett because they have more freedom. My sense is that Gwinnett pays attention to principals, hires great ones and then trusts them to do the work required. My sense in APS and DeKalb has been that even proven principals are subjected to a lot of silly stuff and politics that take them away from their schools and their students and they get tired of it.
Maureen

Annoyed

June 22nd, 2011
12:31 pm

Vince–Less to do with ethnicity/race, more to do with SES (addressing point #3 which seems contradictory to point #2)…

404

June 22nd, 2011
12:31 pm

The first step to a long-term fix for this problem is to desolve Clayton County,
and divide it up, merge it, or some other dissolution.

Clayton County is a joke and and a disgrace.

It has become a soci-economic wasteland, thanks in part to the idiots
that have been running the county and school system for 30 years.

ANGELA

June 22nd, 2011
12:34 pm

I know that this is going to create some controversy however, here goes. I truly feel that socio-economic status gets way too much glory. I am well aware that what students in some communities experience are different from others. However, reading and a dictionary can make a huge difference in gaining knowledge.

Some friends and myself had this conversation last week about the experiences that their children are having based upon the community we live in. But I expressed that if we would force ourselves and children to read more and stop thinking that many of these experience are out of reach we would be more knowledgeable in many ways. I also, expressed that grew up in the inner city and was shown in my household different aspects of fine dining, (my mother catered for a living) as well as enjoying many broadway plays, non-black and black famous movies, boating, along with a few other things. Yes, perhaps I was one of a few but everyone has the same opportunities as I had and still have. Growing up in the inner city instilled in me that I never wanted to go back and believe me as an educator I am trying hard not to have to go back (pay cuts are still alive and well for DCSS with now 4 days cut for next year). But, that still does not mean that I cannot still experience some of the finer things in life and appreciate them as well (and not all of these experiences cost money). Create a bucket list and make every effort to live it out.

I said all of that to say this, parents must come out of the holes that they are in and start doing and living life and stop letting life live them. This applies strongly to education. Stop thinking that education is only for those with money, beauty and brains. Education and life is for everyone you just have to want it. The CRCT scores would be well improved if all people would get up off of their — and do instead complaining about where they live instead of using all of the resources that are out there for ALL people. Socio-economic is far too much of an excuses.

concerned teacher

June 22nd, 2011
12:34 pm

@Maureen–Very true statement…That’s way my county is fairing well in this testing enviroment. THe superintendent leaves the principals alone and lets them do their work! Glad he didn’t go to Cobb!

Dunwoody Mom

June 22nd, 2011
12:35 pm

Before we get all lovely-dovey with Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett, as a system, has never made AYP.

Incredulous

June 22nd, 2011
12:35 pm

@concerned teacher. Thanks. Since this is known, why do we continue to accept the results? I am flabbergasted and frustrated. Where is the will to change the expectations and demand better from our state leaders? How many and whose fingers are in the pie? Where are the grass roots efforts to increase rigor and install concrete, definable assessments? If the show was correct, and it featured an interview with Arne Duncan, we’ve been told are kids are doing great when in reality their learning 60 % of the material. What aggravates me more is the fact that the standards have been maipulated and reduced in rigor to further dilute instruction. We’ve had a statewide fraud perpetuated on us.

ANGELA

June 22nd, 2011
12:38 pm

Oh I forgot to add that when many of the counties stop upholding student unacceptable behavior that would be a huge set toward academic behavior. DCSS upholds parent and student behavior on a minute by minute basis. All of student misbehavior is blamed on the teacher not parents or students and all of that alone promotes and produces academic failure.

Anon

June 22nd, 2011
12:38 pm

Amen Dr. No and Dave! The sooner we accept these proven inherent differences, the sooner we can strive to educate and help kids based on their ability. People are just not all the same, and never will be.

Teacher Drew

June 22nd, 2011
12:38 pm

@David Sims, do you know anything at all about statistics? Basic intelligence should let you know that correlation does not equal causation. In my studies at UGA, I conducted a statistical analysis of how CRCT scores related to wealth and race. In my research I found no statistically relevant figure to show that blacks and Hispanics perform lower than whites and Asians. I did, however, find that wealth was statically relevant to test scores. A wealthy black or Hispanic family typically raises children who do well in school. However, blacks and Hispanics experience poverty at higher rates than whites and Asians due to historical injustices, which makes it appear that they “aren’t as smart.”

Incredulous

June 22nd, 2011
12:40 pm

sorry for the typos, I meant to write ” our” instead of ” are” children, and manipulated instead of “maipulated”.

ANGELA

June 22nd, 2011
12:43 pm

ANGELA

June 22nd, 2011
12:46 pm

Oops – too many typeo’s – toward positive academic behavior

concerned teacher

June 22nd, 2011
12:49 pm

@Incredulous..I think the rigor is getting there..they are expected to know alot in a short period of time..I think that is most of the problem. For students that are ditracted by family situations..its hard to worry about school when you don’t have food and you live in a hotel. Also, this year in particuliarly..I was very, very surprised at the results. They hit as many of my collegues couldn’t understand what happened with the results. We had kids that can’t read pass the reading test. It just didn’t make sense. I don’t know what the state department “actually” did with the cut scores. I know they can report alot of information, but is it really done the way they report it…was it really 1/2 of the questions correct. You know if you make the test and you grade the test you can make it look any way you want it too.

Incredulous

June 22nd, 2011
12:53 pm

Concerned teacher, I heard that some of the students recieved a modified version of the CRCT. How was that process rolled out? What exactly does modified mean? How were those results counted toward AYP? I think that this testing process is the tip of the iceburg.

Wandless

June 22nd, 2011
1:00 pm

“Clayton and Atlanta had some of the lowest scores.”

I am really curious as to why DeKalb County was left out of the sentence. When looking at the test scores, DeKalb County’s scores are actually overall lower than Clayton’s and Atlanta’s.

Tad Jackson

June 22nd, 2011
1:01 pm

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Maureen Downey

June 22nd, 2011
1:04 pm

@Dunwoody, But they have done a good job graduating black males. A recent report named the 10 Best Performing Large Districts for Black Males; Gwinnett ranked fifth in the nation and Cobb eighth. Fulton ranked 14th, while DeKalb ranked 20th. Clayton ranked 34th and Atlanta ranked 40th.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/08/17/in-graduating-black-males-cobb-and-gwinnett-lead-the-state-and-nation-but-the-rates-are-still-too-low/

Atlanta mom

June 22nd, 2011
1:04 pm

Using the GA DOE website, for the school year 2009-2010 following is a list of systems and the percentage of students on free and reduced lunches. Anyone notice a correlation between economic status of the students and CRCT pass scores?
Decatur- 26%
Cobb- 41%
Gwinett-50%
Buford 51%
Marietta-64%
Dekalb-66%
Atlanta-78%
Clayton-80%