What's behind disastrous CRCT scores? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

What's behind disastrous CRCT scores?

May 22, 2008

Lee County --  Now that part of the test scores have been thrown out, parents and teachers wonder what went wrong. Are our students being taught what they need to know to succeed?

While most Lee County students enjoyed field day, nearly half of the eighth grade was buried in books in an intensive mathematics boot camp to help improve their Criterion Referenced Competency Test scores.

"They will be working these two weeks with the teachers who have taught them all year who I know, know those standards, and know those students," says Lee County Middle School Principal Gail Melvin.

Two years ago, as sixth graders, these students scored among the highest in the state on Math CRCT's and teachers went to Atlanta to show what they were doing right. Now, the system's looking at where it failed students on the new tests. Statewide, 40 percent of Georgia kids failed the math portion. In Dougherty and Lee Counties, 50 percent failed.

"Fifty percent of the test was Algebra, and these students with the exception of the little of Algebra that we have implemented in the sixth grade and the seventh grade and then really added on in the eighth grade, they've not had these concepts before," says Melvin.

Other systems also struggled, saying there wasn't enough time to review material and keep moving forward with new information.

"Where mostly students in the past you had just a handful of students who were exposed to Algebra. With the new performance standards students are required to know Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics," said DCSS Testing Coordinator Renee Bridges. 

Teachers say there's no way to know exactly what's on the test, and build their curriculum on the recommendations given by the state and sample questions from the state's website.

"We teach what we feel like is supposed to be taught and we teach it in the way we feel like they will ask it, you can only anticipate and assume that. So, for the most part I think they probably felt like it tested the students they just knew the students weren't ready for some of the ways they were asking them to analytically look through and apply this knowledge," Melvin said.

By separating students according to trouble areas and reviewing that information they hope enough students will pass when they're retested. Lee County along with other districts will go back and look at the math curriculum in previous grades to make sure students in the future are better prepared for the more rigorous math test.

State School Superintendent Kathy Cox threw out sixth and seventh grade social studies tests Wednesday after concluding schools curriculum and the tests didn't match. Lee County plans to retest their 8th grade students June third.

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