Georgia set to replace CRCT with harder test

standardized testing

For 14 years now, Georgia parents have sweated out their child’s performance on the state’s standardized test, the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

But the close of this school year brings to an end the Era of the CRCT. Don’t celebrate just yet, however.

A new, harder test — with stakes every bit as high — will be administered this coming school year in grades three through eight.

It’s the Georgia Measures of Academic Progress, and it already has its very own acronym: GMAP.

The new test will be very different from the CRCT. Indeed, testing itself will be different in Georgia.

Not only is the new test expected to be harder and have fewer of the multiple-choice questions that characterized the CRCT, it will be tougher to get a passing score. Georgia is raising the number of questions students must answer correctly to meet the state’s standard of content mastery.

And while the CRCT has been administered with educators serving as proctors, the new test will, eventually, be an entirely online affair. That means fewer students will use paper and pencil to take it. Some educators believe that could make the test less vulnerable to cheating.

Unlike CRCT testing, when schools were essentially locked down as all students took the test, schools will eventually have some students testing while others are getting classroom instruction.

“We’ll have to change the way we think about test administration in our state,” said Melissa Fincher, associate superintendent for assessment and accountability with the state Department of Education. “It’s going to be a major change, and we’re going to have to address test security as well.”

State education officials say one goal of the increased rigor of the test and the higher bar in the state’s standard is providing a more accurate assessment of where Georgia students are academically. They say the state’s low graduation rate and its comparatively low average score on national tests such as the SAT illustrate that the low threshold for meeting the state’s standard — among the lowest in the nation — wasn’t doing Georgia students any favors.

“We need a new assessment program because we have to raise expectations for our students,” Georgia Superintendent John Barge said.

Already, new, tougher courses such as coordinate algebra and analytic geometry are being offered to Georgia students, and the new test will be crafted to test mastery of that type of content.

For teachers, the new test is only the latest major change in public education.

Georgia agreed to go to a new test and to raise its threshold for passing when it sought a waiver from the No Child Left Behind federal education law. That law had its own performance-evaluation system, which is different than the one Georgia subsequently developed.

The education standards in place now are the third set used in the past 15 years in Georgia. And now there’s this new test, which will replace the CRCT as the test used in performance evaluations for teachers, principals, schools and school districts.

Is there weariness among educators from all of the changes?

“There certainly is,” said Tim Callahan, spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. “Teachers are concerned about the over-testing going on and over the interpreting of the data. NCLB brought with it an almost suffocating regimen of testing that has, in many situations, supplanted emphasis on teaching and learning. We are also using tests to “rate” schools and soon to “rate” teachers – uses that were never intended in the design of the tests, uses that researchers and even the testing companies themselves point out are not valid or reliable.”

Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, said teachers aren’t opposed to a new testing format. Teaching to the new academic standards, called Common Core, should help students prepare, she said.

“Teaching students how to apply knowledge is the goal of the Common Core standards that we are using now in the classroom,” Turner said. “If the new tests will reflect this with more open-ended questions, our students will be much better prepared for college and careers. The skill of filling in a bubble on a multiple-choice test has never been a good way to determine student understanding.”

While the specifics of the new test aren’t yet known, its broad contours have been set, Fincher said, adding that some aspects of it have been field-tested for three years.

Last week, the state Board of Education voted to select the company that will develop the test. The name of the company, and of others that bid, won’t be revealed until the contract the board proposed gets final approval from the state Department of Administrative Services.

The new test is expected to be more expensive than the CRCT, which cost $11 million to administer last year. End-of-course tests, given to high school students and some high-achieving middle schoolers, cost $7.1 million to administer.

Because the new tests will have more open-ended questions, instead of all multiple-choice, more of it will be graded by people. That is expected to be more expensive than the electronic system used to grade the CRCT.

The new test’s relationship to Common Core could add a twist to its development.

Common Core has passionate and politically important foes, who see the standards as an intrusion into state control over public education. With opposition to the standards rising, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the state board to review them.

If the board makes changes to the standards, those changes will have to be reflected on the new test.

State education officials expect more of the testing to be conducted online.

Last year, about 35 percent of the CRCT’s were administered online. In the upcoming school year, state education officials have set a goal of administering 30 percent of the new tests online. By year three, state officials want 80 percent to be administered online. In year five, the goal is for the test to be entirely online.

Some students — those with impaired vision, for example, or those who aren’t physically able to operate a computer — will still be able to take the test with pencil and paper.

J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, said moving more of the testing online is a good idea.

“Online testing is much more efficient and secure because you do not have paper materials,” he said. “In addition, portions of online assessment can be scored faster and returned to school systems in a more timely manner. Obviously, there are some concerns about infrastructure and technology to support the online testing for all students.”

Gwinnett has done much of its testing online in recent years and students there are comfortable with that process, Wilbanks said.

Online testing could pose some challenges, said Callahan, who added that educators are concerned about “the very uneven technological capability across the state. There are definitely ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in terms of hardware, software and bandwidth.”

Fincher said the state is working through all of those challenges and will be ready to crack the seal on its new test next spring.

“It is extremely ambitious,” Fincher said of the state’s plans. “We’re not just re-developing the CRCT. We’re rebuilding the testing system in Georgia.”

By Wayne Washington
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


CRCT vs. GMAP

After 14 years, the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test will no longer be offered to Georgia students. A new test, called the Georgia Measures of Academic Progress, will take its place this upcoming school year. The new test hasn’t been fully developed, but it is expected to be different than the CRCT. Here is a brief look at some of those differences:

Cost

– The CRCT and end-of-course testing cost roughly $18 million to administer last year

– GMAP is expected to cost more; precise figures are not yet available

Content

– The CRCT was multiple-choice and graded by a computer

– GMAP will have more open-ended questions that will have to be graded by people

Administration

– About 35 percent of the CRCT was administered online in Georgia last year

– State education officials expect that GMAP will be administered entirely online by its fifth year

Student Scores

– The state’s standard for content mastery on the CRCT was among the lowest in the nation

– Georgia is raising the content-mastery standard for GMAP

A new test:

The Georgia Measures of Academic Progress, which students will begin taking next school year, will be:

– Harder to pass

– Costlier to administer

– Graded by people instead of electronically

– Taken mainly online instead of on paper

Coming tomorrow:

Parents in Georgia who believe standardized tests have far too much clout in their children’s schooling are joining a growing movement nationwide to “opt out” of them. We’ll tell you why they are demanding that students’ academic achievement and teachers’ performance be gauged in other ways.

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23 Comments

Filed under Standardized Testing

23 responses to “Georgia set to replace CRCT with harder test

  1. Michelle Parker

    It’s absolutely amazing to me that school districts are still having furlough days and haven’t had a pay raise in many years, but the state sees fit to spend more money on testing. More pressure and stress is being put on us for our kids to pass and if they don’t, we are bad teachers. Facts about the students such as economical, prior knowledge, and vocabulary background are not taken into consideration. Document where the child is at the beginning of the year and then at the end, then you get a true growth. Blaming teachers for student learning is absurd. I shouldn’t be responsible for kids not coming to school, bad behavior, and for them just plain not caring. Teachers work their behinds off to teach their students, not to mention the money we spend out of pocket on these kids for extras in the classroom in hopes I makes a difference. All kids learn in a different way and at a different rate and until ALL kids learn in the same way and at the same rate, we as teachers should not be held accountable for a score on a test. Try holding parents accountable for their own children’s behavior, values, and yes, their learning. We as teachers can teach all day and the kids can “get” it but if it’s not reinforced at home, they won’t be successful in school or life.
    Stop changing everything every few years and give something a chance to work. The powers that be in the state of Georgia are setting the teachers and students for failure. When you take, take, take from someone, expect more, more, more that’s when a person gets discouraged. Try some rewards because we do a good, you know a raise like other professionals get from time to time. It’s time for the state to have their teachers’ backs.

  2. Michelle,
    School district administrations and the board set the pay, furlough days and class size for the district. What culpability does the school district have? What school district do you live in … I’ll look up their numbers.

  3. S Hendon

    We as teachers can teach all day and the kids can “get” it but if it’s not reinforced at home, they won’t be successful in school or life. I copied and pasted just those two lines from you, Michelle Parker because that’s all I want to say…everything starts at home and parenting has gone out of the window….

  4. Wendy Kicklighter

    Where is the homework? There is little interaction between parents and teachers nowadays. Everything is done in the classroom. There are many parents out there that want their children to succeed and these parents have to reach out to the teachers for information. Many teachers rely solely on Echalk and text messages to communicate. Parents want to know what is working and what is not working with their kids. The exchange of information about what works and does not work for learning takes just a couple of minutes to communicate. Where is the teamwork? Schools need the parents and the parents need to schools. We cannot succeed if we don’t work together.

  5. Thomas Clay

    I taught for 16 years and the state went from QBE to QCC to GPS to CCGPS. No consistency. We changed horses in the middle of the stream four times. I am still waiting for a 12 year plan that begins in first grade and follows the students through school.

  6. southernteacher

    I am also a 16 year veteran teacher. I think that the state’s definition of depth and rigor contradict the true meaning of depth and rigor. Young children are having to learn so much and in such a short amount of time that they never really get the opportunity to get foundational learning of basic skills. Instead, we throw the “basic skills” at them and then expect them to think abstractly when they simply have not had a chance to master the skills that were thrown to them at such a fast pace. The success of any entity depends entirely on its infrastructure. If you build a house on a poorly designed foundation, the house will collapse. Why are we not focusing on building a firm foundation with children in the early years by ensuring that they have firm grasp on the fundamentals? Depth and rigor is not defined my making young children do work that they simply are not developmentally ready for. And I think that the GMAP is setting young children up for failure.

  7. Nancy Rogers

    Southernteacher, I agree with everything you said.

  8. LB

    As a veteran teacher of 28 years, I’ve seen many changes in our educational system….most of the changes in assessment/testing are not changes for the good. In 4th grade alone, students are expected to cover prehistoric man migrating across Beringia to the Industrial Revolution in one year in social studies alone (don’t leave out personal finance and budgeting). If we are to teach with depth and rigor something has to give. We are working as hard as we can, overcoming any obstacles that arise, paying for supplies out of our lightened pay checks, and are critiqued by absolutely everyone. I never thought I’d consider retiring at 30 years, but with these recent changes many Veteran teachers are too tired and over worked to keep on going. It breaks my heart t know that kids don’t enjoy school anymore……

  9. I totally agree, southernteacher, we are taking away the opportunity for developmentally necessary activities–free play and imaginative behavior-in early years. We take away recess and physical activity that would produce neurotransmitters, and send them in to be put on medications replacing those same neurotransmitters. There is no love of learning, no encouragement of critical thinking, no encouragement for an answer that is ‘not the right answer on the test’. We are skipping over foundations in math by pushing kids into algebra and geometry in middle school—because it makes the school/district look good, only to find that these kids struggle in higher math a few years down the road. A recent Education Week article discussed the fact that only 40% of high school graduates are deemed ‘college-ready’ by scores on SAT or ACT, yet we continue down the same road, throwing more money at a problem using the same solution, only more of it. I would just hope that parents would have a clear idea of what the education system has become.

  10. David

    Frsutratin gtime for educators!!! No one can tell us anything about the new assessment other than its harder and will have open ended questions. No one can tell us how this will affect the Student Growth Model that the state has spent millions on. No one can tell us how this will impact TKES and LKES (evaluation system for teachers and administrators where we are rated on student growth using the student growth model; 50% of teacher evaluation, 70% of administrators evaluation!!) that the state has spent millions more on. No one can tell us how this will affect CCRPI (our new accountability system that replaced AYP under No Child Left Behind); yes that the state has spent millions on

  11. Scott

    Georgia Watch You may be right about who sets the pay for teachers, but they set it based on how much money they get from the state. Please explain how we have the money to purchase and give this new test, when the Governor says we don’t have more money for education. We only got small amount of money this year because it’s an election year. Will this new test require new standards? I teach a subject that doesn’t have common core standards, we still use the old ones.

    Who is going to grade these new test? My performance evaluation is based on how someone else interpret a student’s answer? I hope they plan to train the graders, oh wait we won’t have money for that.

    How are they going to determine growth next year? You can’t compare CRCT scores with GMAP scores. Oh wait, this is the state department and they can do that even though it is not fair.

  12. Scott,
    Funding for education is roughly on average 50% state, 40% local and 10% federal. Ignoring equalization grants, the state gives every school district the same money for each type of student. Teacher pay depends on the priorities set by the local board and administration. For example, at Atlanta Public Schools a 12 year teacher makes $56k while the same teacher next door in DeKalb only makes $44K.

    Generally speaking, we have been spending more and more per student on education, but a majority of that money has been sucked up by General Admin and Staff Services at the direction of local boards and administrations.

    This is only to say we have plenty of money in education. The state DOE down to a majority of local boards and administrations have been failing miserably with an abundance of money. You present excellent questions and I expect GMAP, TKES, LKES, etc … to be a disaster.

  13. I’m a parent and Grand parent I think that we are pressuring our kids to a point that they give up. I also think the people that are making the deciduous for us are Educate beyond there on Intelligent !

  14. Elizabeth

    Wendy, as a teacher I spend the majority of my hours awake ‘on-the-job.’ I create and prepare materials needed to help my students, daily, through the evening hours at home, and don’t leave school until well after the time I stop getting paid,which is 3:00. Fitting in lengthy, in-depth parent calls or conferences is not facilitated by the schedule of my school….principals will have meetings until 4:30 and 5pm on many days, breaks are only guaranteed for an elementary school teacher at lunch, and even those seem to depend on whether there is anyone available to cover cafeteria duty. Lunch, becomes the only time I can use the restroom, eat, and sit down to catch my breath and time to make parent calls during the school day is non-existent. Please know that teachers want to include parents more, but other job responsibilities, being prepared for the daily needs of the children while they are in front of me, drive me to often put parent phone calls toward the end of the never-ending to-do list. While I understand that many parents work, the communication needs to be a two-way street, not always falling on the teacher.

  15. Chuckles

    I have to say that I do somewhat approve of more open ended questions in tests involving interpretations of history or literature. On the other hand…basic math is important. I add, subtract, multiply and divide on a daily basis. I was required to take other math subjects such as geometry, trig and calculus in order to graduate as well. Would anyone care to guess how many times I’ve used those in the 10+ years since I was in high school? I think it would be far more helpful to our society in general if we came up with courses that focus more on logical thinking and general problem solving and test based on that instead of whether or not you can tell the difference between DNA and RNA or figure up the dimensions of a triangle based on one side’s length and its insides angles. Let college courses that focus you into your specialty handle the rest. It would require an entire revamping of our educational system from elementary school to grad school, but given the time we waste on all levels by requiring some of these superfluous courses that don’t prepare you for your future it would be worth it.

  16. Regenia davis

    Y’all are really asking for trouble. It’s hard enough with multiple choice questions Now you’re wanting them to write it out… Y’all are setting them up to fail. And it’s like couldn’t make the criteria before what makes you think that can make it now..

  17. Mary

    To Elizabeth and LB:
    You are great teachers with much wisdom. Hang in there because we need great teachers like you to help our children.

  18. TeeCee

    Setting these kids up for failure! If they aren’t getting it now, why make things harder. Identify the problem and build from there. These kids are being taught to only test, not taught for understanding. I agree we need to step up our educational system, but this is not the way. This is ridiculous. Thank God, I am a working parent that can afford a tutor, but for the parents that do not have that option, it’s so unfair. It’s just too much.

  19. Claire Harrison

    Open-ended testing that allow more subjectivity, adding significant expense is the WRONG DIRECTION

  20. upsetparent

    I have NO faith in today’s educational system. They are setting up kids for failure. My son learned math one way in 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade, then ewas told to forget it & do it “common core” which only confused & frustrated us ALL!!! Now this new test!!?? UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

  21. Tim Allen

    WHY ARE YOU SETTING OUR CHILDREN UP TO FAIL AND BE DISCOURAGED?! I am a parent who is very active in her child’s education. This year was the first time that I have had a teacher tell me and my child not to help my child at home with her math homework because we (parents) were taught a different way than what our children are being taught now: old math vs. new math. A teacher is with my child for less than an hour for each subject five days a week. Homework is completed at “home” where I become her teacher. If we are being instructed not to help our children at home with certain subjects because it is the teacher’s assumption that we (parents) will confuse and frustrate our children, then it is the responsibility of the teacher to send a tutorial of the steps that are being taught in class. This is absurd and senseless to us as parents. Also, the Board that decided it would be best for CRCT tests…to be computerized really are clueless. It is stressful and difficult enough for students to take these tests of material that they have not yet been taught in the grade that they are currently in, and now because you cannot properly monitor the integrity of the students, you want our children to take a computerized version. I would like to thank you sarcastically for supporting the dependency on technology that has interfered with our children’s social skills (texting vs. one-on-one/group speaking), writing skills (hitting a key instead of using a pen/pencil), being able to spell (using spell check instead of a dictionary), laziness (using Internet instead of visiting a library). Looking at a computer screen for the amount of time that each test is given is strenuous on a person’s eyes, and difficult to focus on a question, especially when there are four answers to one questions (e.g. CRCT practice tests). This week my child and I have been working on the CRCT practice tests that were assigned by her teacher via the school county website in which we reside. Just the math questions alone for a 4th grader is absurd. My daughter enjoys school and is an Honor Roll Student. She studies hard and is usually not easily discouraged. I have talked to several other parents whose children continue to excel in their school subjects, but have taken the practice CRCT tests assigned to them. They have also voiced their concerns with their children feeling incompetent and incapable (children’s words were dumb and stupid). If you have parents who are active in helping our children excel in every aspect of life along with many (not all) educators who are passionate and genuinely concerned with teaching our children, then why is this process being used to break the character, spirit and confidence that we are trying to build? My child likes being challenged and she is very capable of learning difficult materials. That is not the problem. One of several problems with CRCTs is for her to be tested on something she has never been taught or has been taught for less than 45 minutes in school, then to have whatever scores received be a determination of whether or not she moves onto the next grade is a form of failure at its best! Stop creating ways to tear our children down and making them feel that everything they have learned during the academic school year has been a waste of time because most of these students are now thinking that the CRCT scores and the materials contained on the tests are the ONLY thing
    that matters for that particular year. Sadly in life they will be subjected to many attempts trying to tear them down and break their character… This does not have to be the start of it!

  22. Cesar vilasenor

    My opinion I hunk we shouldn’t have an end of year test because the CRCT was hard enough and now the new test that starts this week that is called GA Mile Stones is even harder. I think we shouldn’t have an end of year test anymore. Math was easy I exeeded math in the CRCT every year since 1st grade but social studies was always hard I faild social studies two times since 1st grade. And now there making it even harder. Just saying I think they should put an end to an end of year test

  23. Jim Gray

    I feel that the CRCT Test under minds the Teacher’s job and confuses the children. If we send our kids to school to past a test, we defeats the purpose.That is why we Have so many Rappers.The schools today, leaves no other choice but for the students to vent their
    confusion.Teachers, Pray, and hang in there! JG.