Originally created 04/22/01

Statewide tests start this week



Pupils in Columbia and Richmond counties will get a chance this week to show what they know.

They will join about 400,000 other elementary and middle school pupils throughout the state taking the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, which will be administered through May 4.

In Columbia County, the tests will be given Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with any makeup tests given Friday. Columbia County will test grades four, six and eight in reading, English language arts and math.

Richmond County is testing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with two one-hour sessions each day covering math, English language arts and reading in grades four, six and eight. Four schools are field-testing science and social studies, and other schools are field-testing in other grade levels, said Carol Rountree, Richmond County school system's director of testing.

"The CRCTs can give us some very valuable information on how our students are mastering skills in the Quality Core Curriculum," said Kay Blanchard, Columbia County school system's testing coordinator. "That, in turn, can help teachers and school administrators evaluate strengths and weaknesses in administering the Quality Core Curriculum. If used appropriately, the test can be used to strengthen instructional practice."

Two years from now, pupils in third through eighth grades will be tested in all areas, and grades one and two will be tested in language arts, reading and math.

"The purpose of the field testing is so we can begin phasing in the other grade levels and the other content area," Dr. Rountree said.

The results on the state curriculum exams will be included in the first report card of Gov. Roy Barnes' accountability program.

This is the second battery of tests for pupils this year. The first was the national Stanford 9 tests that Georgia pupils took last month. But in Georgia schools, the CRCTs will determine whether schools, teachers and pupils are making the grade.

"The CRCT is a measure of success in teaching the Quality Core Curriculum," Dr. Rountree said. "If we are going to say that a school has or had not been successful, it should only be after we have assessed them on what they set out to do. The Quality Core Curriculum should be the standard by which we measure ourselves."

Under Mr. Barnes' accountability program, schools ultimately will be graded on CRCT results, with those grades largely determining which teachers get bonuses and which schools get makeovers. Beginning in 2004, children in some grades will have to pass CRCTs to advance to the next grade.

By December, a report card should be issued with the results for fourth-, sixth- and eighth-graders from 2000 and this year, though formal grades won't be assigned to schools for at least another year. The grading system will be used as a means to identify low-performing schools.

"It's fair and it's equitable because it looks at the child's progress itself, not how well someone else has done - how well he has mastered what teachers set out to teach," Dr. Rountree said. "In this era of accountability, it provides us with an equitable measure of accomplishing this accountability reform."

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113.