The fi­nal CRCT scores have been re­leased. HERE’S HOW WE DID

State-re­leased CRCT scores for New­ton show both pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives in the test’s last year

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

Amid an­nounce­ments of and prepa­ra­tions for a new test­ing sys­tem for pub­lic schools through­out the state, signs of both growth and de­cline were rep­re­sented in the fi­nal year of Cri­te­rion Ref­er­enced Com­pe­tency Tests (CRCT) in New­ton County schools.

The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (GADOE) re­leased the 2014 CRCT scores June 25, show­ing the New­ton County School Sys­tem (NCSS) matched or sur­passed the state aver­age in seven of 30 per­for­mance ar­eas and hav­ing im­proved in 16 ar­eas from 2013.

Scores were cal­cu­lated as a per­cent­age of stu­dents in each of grades three through eight who met or ex­ceeded the state’s ex­pec­ta­tions for the stan­dard­ized test in the aca­demic ar­eas of read­ing, English lan­guage arts, math, sci­ence and so­cial stud­ies. CRCTs are aligned with the Com­mon Core Ge­or­gia Per­for­mance Stan­dards (CCGPS) as re­quired by state law and are scaled to rep­re­sent three lev­els of pass­ing or fail­ing.

CRCT as­sess­ments are gen­er­ally struc­tured to range from 650-900, with a score be­low 800 in­di­cat­ing a “level of per­for­mance that does not meet the stan­dard,” ac­cord­ing to the 2013 CRCT Score Im­ple­men­ta­tion Guide pro­vided by the GADOE. Scores from 800-849 in­di­cates the stu­dent “meets the stan­dard,” and an 850 or above in­di­cates the stu­dent “ex­ceeds the stan­dard.”

Cur­rent data do not re­flect retest scores, which should be re­leased late this month, ac­cord­ing to an NCSS press re­lease.

“I greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the fo­cused work and ded­i­ca­tion of our NCSS team,” said NCSS Su­per­in­ten­dent Samantha Fuhrey. “Our teach­ers have been work­ing dili­gently to im­ple­ment the (CCGPS) in read­ing, English lan­guage arts and math while main­tain­ing a laser-like fo­cus on the Ge­or­gia Per­for­mance Stan­dards in sci­ence and so­cial stud­ies. A tes­ta­ment to their ef­forts is the sig­nif­i­cant in­creases noted in the per­cent­age of stu­dents who have ex­ceeded the stan­dard on CRCT. We are bet­ter pre­par­ing stu­dents not only for the rigor as­so­ci­ated with the new as­sess­ments but also for life be­yond high school.”

Pos­i­tive points

Over­all, NCSS schools marked a 53 per­cent rate of im­prove­ment on this year’s CRCT tests. All grades ex­cept eighth showed in­creased pass rates on the read­ing as­sess­ment. Third-graders in­creased pass rates in all five as­sess­ments.

Grades three, five and seven had more stu­dents pass the English lan­guage arts CRCT than in 2013. Grades three, five and six passed a larger per­cent­age of stu­dents on the sci­ence as­sess­ment, and grades three, six, seven and eight showed in­creases in pass­ing stu­dents on the so­cial stud­ies CRCT.

Third-graders also out­paced the stage aver­age in read­ing, English lan­guage arts and so­cial stud­ies. Fourth-graders did so in so­cial stud­ies as well as fifth-graders in English lan­guage arts.

Sixth-graders matched the state pass rate on the sci­ence and so­cial stud­ies as­sess­ments.

Other fac­tors

NCSS Di­rec­tor of Test­ing, Re­search and Eval­u­a­tion Al­li­son Jordan looked into pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions for why cer­tain grades score high or low in cer­tain sub­jects.

She said when com­par­ing eighth grade CRCT re­sults from 2013 and 2014, she found that each sub­ject had 100-200 more stu­dents tak­ing the tests. This sup­ports mo­bil­ity rate re­search, which ex­plores what hap­pens when stu­dents switch schools of­ten,

Once the mo­bil­ity rate reaches 30 per­cent, stu­dent achieve­ment tends to de­crease, Jordan said. High rates af­fect both the stu­dent who can­not ac­cli­mate to a sta­ble ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ment and the stu­dent who does not move but has new peers com­ing and go­ing from the class­room through­out the year.

Jordan said this may be a pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion for the de­cline in scores for eighth-graders – in ev­ery sub­ject ex­cept so­cial stud­ies – from 2013-2014, whose mo­bil­ity rate in 2014 was 35 per­cent.

“When an­a­lyz­ing our data for per­for­mance by cat­e­gory, we also no­ticed in­creased move­ment from the ‘meets’ to ‘ex­ceeds’ cat­e­gories in all sub­ject ar­eas for eighth and sev­enth grade,” Jordan said. “The num­ber of stu­dents tested in­creased, which sup­ports this high mo­bil­ity rate for 2014. How­ever, re­gard­less of the chal­lenges fac­ing this tran­sient stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, teach­ers in­creased rigor and more stu­dents reached the ‘ex­ceeds’ level.

“That move­ment in­di­cates cur­ricu­lum is be­ing taught as it should be.”

Needs im­prove­ment

While ev­ery grade saw more stu­dents reach pass­ing scores in at least one cat­e­gory, only grade three posted gains in the math as­sess­ment from 2013-2014.

Twenty-three of the 30 per­for­mance ar­eas – split be­tween six grade lev­els and five CRCT tests – fell be­low the state aver­age. The big­gest gap was in sixth-grade math, which scored 6.3 per­cent be­low the state aver­age.

The rigor of the math sub­jects taught and the tests ad­min­is­tered to stu­dents this past year re­flect an ap­pro­pri­ate ex­am­ple of the new tests stu­dents will take next year. As the EOCT tests for high-school­ers are also be­ing thrown out mov­ing for­ward, all stu­dents in grades three through 12 will par­tic­i­pate in the Ge­or­gia Mile­stones As­sess­ment Sys­tem (GMAS).

End of Grade (EOG) as­sess­ments for stu­dents in grade three through eight and End of Course (EOC) as­sess­ments for high-school­ers will be con­sis­tent across all grades in­stead of a se­ries of in­di­vid­ual tests and will in­clude open-ended ques­tions to bet­ter gauge stu­dents’ con­tent mas­tery, ac­cord­ing to the NCSS.

Test ques­tions will force stu­dents away from a sim­pler “plug-and-chug” Scantron where guess­ing may pro­duce a cor­rect an­swer by re­quir­ing writ­ten ex­pla­na­tions and ci­ta­tions from the prob­lem to prove why an an­swer was cho­sen.

“These in­creased ex­pec­ta­tions for learn­ing may mean ini­tially lower scores than pre­vi­ous years’ CRCT and EOCT scores, but that is to be ex­pected and should bring Ge­or­gia’s tests in line with other in­di­ca­tors of how stu­dents are per­form­ing,” said an NCSS press re­lease.

“We are not sat­is­fied with our re­sults,” Su­per­in­ten­dent Fuhrey said. “With con­tin­ued fo­cus on our non-ne­go­tiable goals of more ef­fec­tive teach­ing and in­creas­ing stu­dents’ per­for­mance, we ex­pect to see con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment over­all.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate our par­ent and com­mu­nity part­ner­ships and can­not em­pha­size enough the im­por­tance of the role both play in re­gards to stu­dents’ achieve­ment. High ex­pec­ta­tions of our stu­dents cou­pled with ap­pro­pri­ate ed­u­ca­tional and com­mu­nity sup­port will en­able our stu­dents to be col­lege and/or ca­reer ready.”

Source: NCSS

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