On the CRCT

A friend of mine is a school teacher who had a 100% pass rate on the CRCT among her students. Several of the students had perfect scores.

She has taught for so long she said she knew the curriculum was deficient in teaching her students what they needed to know, so all year long she added additional materials to the curriculum to cover what she thought students at her grade level needed to know.

The results speak for themselves.

Here’s the problem though: the CRCT is supposed to reflect the curriculum and it didn’t. This is not the first teacher I’ve talked to who felt like the curriculum was deficient. So what comes first, the CRCT or the curriculum?

We clearly have a problem, but it sounds like it is children learning too little. Maybe we need to stop teaching the test and actually teach.

37 comments

  1. ACConservative says:

    Erick, I’ve talked with some teachers out in Oconee and Athens-Clarke Counties as well, the story seems about the same.

    If the teachers agree that the curriculum is severely lacking, shouldn’t the blame be focused upon the dolt(s) that wrote the curriculum?

    If you’re going to dumb down the curriculum it only makes sense to dumb down the CRCT. If you want a more rigorous CRCT, you’re going to need a more rigorous curriculum.

  2. Skeptical says:

    “Maybe we need to stop teaching the test and actually teach.”

    Truer words were never spoken. The constant dumbing down of America is a disturbing trend that needs to stop. When more people can tell you who won American Idol than can tell you one name out of nine on the current Supreme Court bench, there is a real problem in this country.

    An educated workforce is what keeps America moving forward.

  3. CHelf says:

    This is the case across the board. Especially with new teachers the focus is on results. Results are measured by the tests. So standards are set to the tests. Teachers teach solely to the tests so the results will show improvement, success, etc.

    This is the sad part about the public school system. There is a bar that is set and teachers are being told to focus on hitting that bar. I think in the case mentioned above, a teacher who basically said ‘screw the standard’ took the initiative and focused on doing their job. Every single teacher who did this and excelled beyond the “test bar” should get a fat raise for doing what all should be doing. Perhaps THIS should be the bar set for teachers. Stop teaching to pass the test. We have just seen how that has completely failed and severely failed the students. This was a very painful but needed object lesson to show an existing policy is a complete failure.

  4. Skeptical says:

    What ever happened to learning for the sake of gaining knowledge? It seems that the emphasis has shifted from creating a knowledgable populace to just getting by with the basics of how to read and punch a picture on a cash register at McDonalds.

  5. Goldwater Conservative says:

    Knowledge?! Not many people learn for the sake of knowledge anymore. People, for the most part, deal with high school and college so they can get a good job and decent pay. Knowledge is not rewarded in American society. Some moron that can throw a football (Michael Vick) or throw a basketball into a metal ring is more highly regarded than a scientist, teacher, professor, or even a doctor.

    American priorities are fairly out of order. First responders are some of the most important people in our society, but they are almost close to the lowest paid.

    Oh, yeah…and the bar has been set too low. What Erick’s teacher friend has done is important…and she, as well as her students, should be rewarded for their acheivements…not punished in our drive to the bottom.

  6. John Konop says:

    ACConservative

    Define a rigorous curriculum?

    Are you saying you would not use a lawyer who never passed algebra 2?

    Are you saying if the person who cuts your hair should be fired if they never took algebra 2?

    Are you saying any student without algebra 2 should not graduate high school or college?

    You want to define intelligence within a one size fit all box. A rational humble person realizes talents come in different sizes and shapes. Also the key is getting ahead is embrace your talent and work with or hire people who cover up your weakness.

    A little advise from a dyslexic CEO.

  7. Goldwater Conservative says:

    There are many things that can help…I do not think defining intelligence is an argument that can reasonably be settled on a blog.

    John Konop brings up an interesting point and lends itself to the education model that has become rather prevalent around the mediterranean and india. It is similar to the way college education is structured. A major course of study is pursued and various general education requirements must be met. The requirements are not necessarily the same for everbody. I would not advocate a fifth grader to decide between 1 of 100 courses of study. Beginning a science/vocational/liberal arts/civil service type model, then narrowing it as a student progresses towards post secondary school is rather reasonable. We should, logically, test what types of intelligence that a student has. Then a couselor, the child, and the child’s family should decide which direction the student should go.

    We also need to move towards a balance
    schedule. Giving students 3 months off (to work on the “farm”) is ridiculous. They end up spending the first quarter of the school year in remedial studies. This practice is a waste of time and resources. We can do better.

    Administratively, taking the school district out of the equation, providing state (not federal) approved cirricullums for the courses of study (much like the Regents Board) and having the student and his/her family make the decision with a counselor provides much more freedom and efficiency than having 3 levels of bureaucracy fight over how things are done. This does not eliminate the USDOE, but it does limit their scope to a support function.

  8. ACConservative says:

    John, did you fail algebra 2 or something? Because you continue to harp on that one class being totally unnecessary to function in society.

    Even if you didn’t fail algebra 2, its pretty obvious that you didn’t pass reading comprehension, because I’ve laid it out multiple times.

    Math teaches more than addition and subtraction. It teaches ANALYTICAL REASONING (pick up a dictionary) a skill which is not only vital for lawyers, but a number of other professions. Math teaches someone how to look at a problem and find a step by step solution that is both logical and effective. Math changes the approach the mind takes in looking at a situation and responding to it.

    I’d rather have a lawyer who can look at the facts in a case and logically move his way to a conclusion and a point than one who throws his hands up in the air when he hits a dead end.

    I’d like to have a hairdresser, who when she cuts off a little too much, can step back and solve the problem by making a series of snips and clips which leave my hair in a state of normal appearance. I’d much prefer that to someone who just quits when they can’t figure out how to work their way through a process.

    While the numbers may not be used… math fosters a way of thinking. This method of analytical problem solving is something that makes you a better member of society.

    Moreover, last I checked, Algebra 2 is a requirement for every post secondary institution not named the University of Phoenix. So, if you don’t want to go to college, don’t take algebra 2. My father didn’t attend college… he chose to start his own business, and math and the associated skills it brings seem to be serving him pretty well.

    Having algebra 2 shows that you’re making an honest to goodness effort to move all kids in a high school towards college. If you don’t want to require algebra 2, or geometry, or calculus, or any of that… I want you to stand at the entry way to every high school in this state and tell each kid that comes through the door to decide right then and there whether or not they want to go to college.

    Those who do, might want to go sign up for algebra 2. Those who don’t can go to auto shop according to you. If you don’t need algebra 2 then you don’t need biology, you don’t need chemistry, you don’t need physics, you don’t need world history, you don’t need English literature, you don’t need economics, you don’t need geometry… hell, you don’t even need high school.

    Congrats John, you’ve saved the states untold swaths of money since we now can scrap every high school in the state. Because, once a kid learns how to add and subtract, whats the point in teaching him anything else?

  9. ACConservative says:

    GC, if you shorten the summer, you can fit in all the curriculum stuff that was apparently wasn’t covered by teachers in preparation for the CRCT.

    I say give kids a 2 week “fall break” a 2 week “spring break”, the typical 3 weeks for “Christmas/winter break”, and a 4 week “summer break”

    You’ve now got 40 weeks of school, two 20 week semesters or four 10 week quarters… its a lot of time in the classroom, but if we want our education to remain competitive with Japan and other nations, we’ve got to up the ante.

  10. ACConservative says:

    Plus, teachers are getting paid in the summer anyway. Parents are at work during the summer, save a couple vacation weeks… its not messing with anyones lives that much. (except for kids and Disney World)

  11. John Konop says:

    ACConservative

    I did not fail algebra two and in fact I was straight A student in statistics in college. I would guess I have done better with my math reasoning skills than you have.

    The reason is because I have learned to accept that we all have different gifts rather than pushing my employees into a one size fit all model. I am also humble enough to appreciate what they contribute.

    You seem to avoid the question do you agree with Kathy Cox that any student who cannot track to algebra 2 should fail high school?

    I also believe after seeing the presentation from Kathy Cox on math 123, she could not pass basic statistics. The presentation was riddled with errors. In the real world if caught in the business world with that presentation should we be facing the same fuzzy math issues as the ENRON guys?

    Did she disclose 40% of students would fail to the parents and school district in her implementation plan?

    When she was questioned about the issue in Cherokee County Kathy Cox in fact told us not to worry because this new math program made it easier for the students to learn and we were overreacting.

    In fact Kathy Cox told Cherokee parents our gifted and advance children were behind the nation. What she failed to disclose was she was using state wide numbers not the fact our kids were ranked 12th in the nation on a different program than most counties .

    A logical person would copy what is working not make it up as they go and eliminate the only nationally ranked program in Georgia for math.

  12. ACConservative says:

    John,

    I apologize for not being able to differentiate from questions and statements of fact. Normally questions are ended with a piece of punctuation often known as the question mark. Statements, on the other hand, are delineated by periods. In rare instances of excitement or joy, an exclamation point can be used for extra emphasis.

    Grammar lesson aside, I feel that we are both in general agreement that Kathy Cox has poorly performed in her role as state superintendent. I have not agreed with a number of her programs and decisions, be them math 123 or the EOCT tests. I feel that teaching a class solely so a child can “get over the bar” so to speak is a flawed notion. When you teach kids the bare minimum required to pass a test or meet some goal, you seriously undersell the student and retard their potential in irreparable ways.

    However, instead of teaching them merely to “get over the bar”, we should be teaching them to raise the bar. Instead of teaching kids the minimum in order that they pass some test, we should be teaching them the maximum, and making such tests a trivial incursion on their daily schedule. Instead of kids worrying that they might fail the CRCT because they’ve been under prepared, we should have kids knowing that they’ll pass because they’ve been over prepared.

    I feel that we can agree on that previously said point in principle. Where we differ, however, is that I see children for their potential. Moreover, I feel that we should be fostering and encouraging that potential from the first moment they walk into a public school in the state of Georgia. These kids CAN be anything they’re heart desires. We should encourage them to strive to be anything they want to be.

    You, on the other hand, seem to subscribe to the belief that some people are naturally slower on the uptake than others. This is partially true, as learning disparities are shown to exist between individuals. It doesn’t mean that with specialized help and attention from teachers, those disparities cannot be bridged. It all comes back to fostering potential… that starts in the classroom on day 1.

    Again, I don’t know why you harp on algebra 2. I’ve answered your question multiple times and do not feel the need to go over it again, and again, and again. Algebra 2 is part of the curriculum and its rightfully part of the curriculum. If you feel that math is unnecessary after the apprehension of basic principles such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, feel free to stop sending your kids to school after 4th or 5th grade. Or, if like me, you believe that knowledge is power, you won’t hinder them from learning beyond what they might need to know.

    For all you know, these hairdressers who have no need for algebra 2 might have to help their high-school aged child with homework. Wouldn’t you want those parents to be able to provide their son and daughter with some much-needed assistance outside the classroom?

    If a high school student doesn’t need algebra 2, then they don’t need algebra 1. If they don’t need those classes they certainly don’t need geometry or statistics. Heck, while we’re at it, lets stop teaching them economics, sociology, psychology, world religions, geography, world history, US government, US history, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, or poetry. Because, all you need to know how to do is read, write, and perform basic math, correct?

    John, it’s not a matter of whether the subject matter is applicable beyond high school. It’s about creating an educated populace. A populace that can compete for jobs, a populace that can solve problems, and a populace that can work efficiently. I may not need a whole lot of math in my current line of work, but I’m thankful for the knowledge I acquired taking two AP Calculus courses in high school. I’m glad I took AP Chemistry and AP Biology, even though I don’t do anything that pertains to hard science. I’m thankful because I feel that the education received in those classes and the classes I’ve taken in college, have given me a leg up, and greatly enriched my life.

    If you have a problem with enriching the lives of children, your problem doesn’t lie within the education system, it lies within you.

  13. John Konop says:

    ACConservative

    I do agree with you. The truth is Kathy Cox watered down the gifted and advance programs in math. And she forced all students on a math track that many should not be on.

    I wrote this article over a year ago about the issue please read.

    Georgia School Czar Flunks Math
    Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Cox, has imposed a dramatically changed high school math curriculum without properly reviewing it with teachers and parents. She is replacing the traditional structure (algebra I & II, geometry, Trig, Calculus with Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3). Her new mandate may be well intended–but the devil’s in the details.

    Read more

    http://controlcongress.com/uncategorized/georgia-school-czar-flunks-math

  14. Bill_k says:

    I have a question for Erick’s teacher friend: Where did she get the proper curriculum to teach? Did she just choose subjects based on her experience or did she actually have some word on the contents of the test? Either way, I compliment her on the success of her students.

    Anytime I see more than ~20% of a class fail, I have to question the competence of the teacher. However, if the teachers were given a curriculum that did not match the test, then the fault lies with the administration. You can’t teach apples and then give them a test on oranges. Most teachers do not have the time to question the curriculum they are given, and would probably be punished for straying from it.

    I applaud Cox for trying to pull up the quality of our school system. But good intentions must be followed by good execution.

  15. dewberry says:

    Boom

    ACConservative said…
    “Even if you didn’t fail algebra 2, its pretty obvious that you didn’t pass reading comprehension, because I’ve laid it out multiple times.”

  16. Howard Roark says:

    ACConservative

    You said “Plus, teachers are getting paid in the summer anyway. Parents are at work during the summer, save a couple vacation weeks… its not messing with anyones lives that much. (except for kids and Disney World)”

    The reality is a teachers contract is for 190 days. We have 3 paid vacation days a year. It is true we have a salary holdback and receive a check in the summer months however we are being paid money from our contract. The holdback is from the number of days worked.

  17. Harry says:

    Then let’s change that contract to 230 days per year, with the teachers and kids in class every one of those days. And when the teachers are making far in excess of the prevailing community standard, then I don’t think additional compensation is warranted. Teachers are really getting over on us, due to strong political and union skills. Enough is enough. When you add up all the benefits, teachers are averaging over $50/hour for every hour spent teaching, prep and grading – and I’m being conservative, because many of those hours are spent in passively watching kids take tests, field trips, etc.

    If a teacher is effective, then maybe they’re worth $50 per hour. But the main problem is, we can’t afford to keep supporting a system that doesn’t produce results.

    There’s a greater problem. Many of you are not prepared to accept that kids are not all wired to learn in the same way, and yes it’s at least 80% genetic. You have been indoctrinated to believe that one size fits all when it doesn’t. When we can honestly deal with that matter without being called bigots and racists, then we’ll start to make progress in regaining competitiveness in the world economy and the quality and equality of our society.

  18. dragonfire says:

    Harry,

    The average teacher salary in Georgia is around $48K. I know of very few teachers who can manage to get their work done in an 8 hour work day. I have no idea how you are getting teachers averaging $50/hour, particularly when one takes into account hours after school and in the summer without compensation, supplies purchased out of pocket, etc. Shoot, if that was the salary, we’d have a lot more people willing to take on the job. Teacher shortage? Thing of the past with that salary.

    Teachers unions – non-existent in the state of Georgia. Are there folks advocating on behalf of teachers politically? You betcha. The average teacher, though, has no sense of the political ramifications of his/her actions in the classroom, and really no sense of what is being advocated on his/her behalf on state and national levels. The average teacher fears for his/her job, tends to do as told by the school administration, and if that means review for the CRCT out of test preparation books at the expense of student learning, then so be it. Doesn’t matter what good pedagogy they are putting up on the shelf in the process. Fear of the test is what is driving education these days – not sound educational theory or pedagogy. That point is driven home for me every time I hear my own children talking about tests, or I’m sent home a code for them to practice for the CRCT online. The stress that is put on kids to pass the test by teachers comes from the fear of the test. That’s not education. That’s test anxiety.

    What needs to be changed is the test driven culture…. but as long as testing companies have a greater pull politically, not to mention publishers who are making a killing off the swarm to “prepare children for the test,” that is not going to happen.

    Most teachers I have gotten to know do the absolute best they can with what they know, what they have, and the children who enter their classrooms on a daily basis in a system that will continue to be broken. The entire discussion that I’ve been reading the past few days makes that point pretty clear – the system is broken. What saddens me is that teachers… if they were to truly recognize their political power… could do a lot to fix it; there are a whole lot more teachers than there are lawmakers. The continual pressure, paperwork, assessments, discipline, classroom management, separation from other adults during the work day, etc, not to mention the fear that is endemic to this test driven culture manages to do a really good job of distracting teachers from working together to fight/fix the broken system.

  19. Harry says:

    “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

  20. ACConservative says:

    Why can’t we pay teachers more?

    I’m as conservative as the next guy, I think tax cuts and small government are wonderful. But shouldn’t there be some things in which our government involves itself? Our tax dollars should go to pay for things that really matter.

    We’ve got a teacher shortage in Georgia, we’ve had one for a while. The effects of that continue to rear their ugly head. Why can’t we shell out the dough to invest in the future of our children and the future of our state?

    What we invest in education, we stand to reap the benefits of down the road. Just look at what the HOPE scholarship has done for Georgia. Our greatest natural resource is now fresh-faced college graduates. Its an enticement for business and growth to know that we have an educated and capable work force.

    We should be doing everything we can to ensure that children in Georgia are getting the best education. That means making sure facilities are top of the line, that the best and the brightest are teaching our children, and that we are fostering an environment which encourages and promotes achievement.

    Nationally, we should be doing the same thing. IF Congressmen would quit bloating legislation such as the Farm Bill with untold amounts of prok and useless spending, and we channeled that money into a nobler cause like education, there is no telling what could be done.

    Who knows, if we invest in education now, 30 years down the road, we won’t have to deal with the bumper crop of morons that seem to be holding public office.

  21. Harry says:

    The educational “establishment” in this state – the school boards, administrators, teacher union leaders, school book sales reps, teacher pension fund managers, etc. – are dedicated to maintaining the status quo and their own tickets. Only by keeping the schoolteacher sheep and general taxpaying public in a state of sedation can they hope to continue their prerogatives.

  22. Harry says:

    “We’ve got a teacher shortage in Georgia, we’ve had one for a while.”

    You’ve bought the propaganda. There are plenty of successful people, good role models, who want to teach. The establishment talks a good line about recruiting these types, but they really want the young teacher college graduates they can mold and control. There is no real teacher shortage.

  23. Howard Roark says:

    Harry,

    I suggest you get your teaching certificate and show all the experts how you would solve the problems of public education. I love a know it all.

    Harry said “Teachers are really getting over on us, due to strong political and union skills.”

    We have established that Georgia is a right to work state. There is no collective bargaining.

    Harry said “Then let’s change that contract to 230 days per year, with the teachers and kids in class every one of those days.”

    I generally work 20 days in my classroom during the summer preparing for the coming school year.

    Harry said “because many of those hours are spent in passively watching kids take tests, field trips, etc.”

    You really are quite foolish.

    Harry said “Many of you are not prepared to accept that kids are not all wired to learn in the same way, and yes it’s at least 80% genetic. You have been indoctrinated to believe that one size fits all when it doesn’t.”

    We spend hours planning differentiated instruction. In my classroom there is a sign for me to see that asks the question “What do I do when they don’t get it!” The idea of one size fits all was thrown out years ago.

  24. Dave Bearse says:

    I don’t know enough of the cirricula to weigh in on that component, and respect for Cox was diminshed with her “biological changes over time” proposal.

    I give her credit for throwing out 6th and 7th grade social studies test results that clearly indicate a disconnect. Likewise her standing by the 8th grade math results, given state’s history of poor math education and back-loaded NCLB plan (little initial and increasing improvement as the 2014 deadline approaches), seems to be right thing to do.

  25. John Konop says:

    Dave Bearse

    You give Kathy Cox credit for giving out the wrong test and throwing out the results? And you give her credit for watering down the gifted and advance math program and forcing every student to complete a track toward algebra 2 or they fail high school?

    And you give Kathy Cox credit knowing she was warned by numerous people? And her own hand picked math program director resigned before full implementation knowing this was a train wreck and Kathy blindly went forward with no warning to parents, schools or students. And when Kathy was confronted with the issues about math 123 she lied to parents that she had it all under control and we were overreacting.

    Kathy Cox failed and must resign!

  26. dewberry says:

    I was interested in what this test cost to administer. With all of the talk about teacher pay and this and that I thought this was importatnt.

    MONTEREY, Calif., Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ — CTB/McGraw-Hill, the nation’s leader in PreK-12 and adult education assessment solutions, today announced a five-year $62.5 million award from the Georgia Department of Education to serve as the primary contractor for the administration of the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). The contract award begins with the 2006/2007 school year and includes four annual renewal options through 2010.

  27. John Konop says:

    dewberry

    After NCLB the cost per student went up by 33% all going to the publishing industry and administration cost. And we wonder why cost is up and results are down!

  28. dewberry says:

    Yes, these numbers say nothing about the time the teachers spend telling the kids how to take the test, all of the admins etc… who attended meetings, and this and that.

    From what I understand this test is a requirement by both the feds and the state.

    Here in Savannah the school churn went to a baseball game during school hours. Naturally they were bussed to the baseball stadium.

    According to studies, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/04/AR2007120400730.html, our science scores are behind 16 other countries out of the 30 considered. Our science results show that US scores are 11 points below the average of the 30 countries considered. We ranked 24 concerning math scores. Soon, we won’t be able to say we did any better than another country unless we do something. We can fairly compete with the Mexicans today.

    We are not competing very well right now at all. We are most competitive with those who share our same standing just like everyone else. Examples include the divisions found in college and professional sports. Minor league baseball teams would not be too competitive against a major league team just as a feather weight boxer might not fare too well against a heavy weight fighter. Since we find ourselves behind most industrial nations based on the test results of our kids, we are left to compete with other countries that share our below average rank.

  29. Bill Simon says:

    Howard Roark,

    Here’s a question: Putting aside the fact she was elected to office, WHAT could possibly qualify Kathy Cox (a person who has both an undergraduate degree and a master’s in political science) to be capable of running an education department?

  30. voice of reason says:

    Harry said “because many of those hours are spent in passively watching kids take tests, field trips, etc.”

    First, being a parent with children in grade school, I am quite sure the teachers in charge of my children each day are not “passive” while my children are testing or on a field trip… especially on a field trip! My children’s safety is at stake then! All jobs have more active times and slow times… and to imply that teacher’s pay is not earned during tests and field trips is ridiculous, if not down right insulting.

    I’m concerned, however, that simply “throwing out” results of a test is the start of lowering standards… the kids can’t pass, then simply quit testing. It’s a very slippery slope of dumbing down our education even more that we’re standing on.

  31. Howard Roark says:

    Bill Simon,

    Absolutely nothing. I am more qualified (by degree) to be State Superintendent of schools.

    One thing I found funny in the last election cycle was that Kathy Cox replaced Tommy Irvin as the safest politician in Georgia because of the name recognition investment made by Cathy Cox.

    Just a prediction for this week. It will really hit the fan when Kathy Cox throws out the math scores.

  32. John Konop says:

    Howard,

    I wrote this essay almost 2 years ago and could not find a math teacher and administrator who did not know and agree about all the issues I brought up about the roll out of Math 123. The person in charge of the program resigned because of the issues with this program. Why did you not speak up?

    Georgia School Czar Flunks Math

    Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Cox, has imposed a dramatically changed high school math curriculum without properly reviewing it with teachers and parents. She is replacing the traditional structure (algebra I & II, geometry, Trig, Calculus with Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3). Her new mandate may be well intended–but the devil’s in the details.

    Read more

    http://controlcongress.com/uncategorized/georgia-school-czar-flunks-math

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