Too Much Emphasis On CRCT?

Has teaching lessons deviated to teaching to a test?

Is your child’s school forcing its teachers not to teach lessons but to teach to the CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests)? There is an increase in number of schools that are putting such a strong emphasis on this standardized test that teachers feel that their job relies solely on the results of this test. Isn’t it such a pity that instead of being able to focus on teaching children lessons, they are bullied into trying to teach them how to take a test? Numerous schools are spending 2 or more weeks with their students preparing for tests and taking practice CRCTs. This is educational time that our students are missing out on and yet another reason why the U.S. is falling behind in educational standards. School systems are begging for more money in order to bring the ayps (Annual Yearly Progress) up to an acceptable standard but I feel that a better solution would be to cut a lot of the red tape that is binding the hands of our teachers and to cut all of the bullying out of our school systems. Almost every school system has banned bullying by their students since the Columbine murders but more steps need to be taken because too many school systems are still rattled with bullies and fear tactics.

Intimidation in the traditional public school system.

The most damaging bullies in schools today aren’t the students but are the bureaucrats behind the educators. Their high pressure fear tactics are damaging the education of our children. They are spending more and more of your tax dollars to purchase cases upon cases of red tape. They are then hiring a bloated amount of office staff to pass around this red tape and bind the hands of the educators. Were you aware that many schools began taking up text books and processed them into inventory the week after administering the crct test? I don’t know about you but I send my child to school to learn not to just take a standardized test and be done. I want my child to continue to be educated until the final day of school.

I spent a lot of time speaking with teachers whom feel so intimidated that they don’t feel comfortable speaking to most of their friends and families because they are afraid they will lose their job. Some are even told to spend the last two weeks of school doing CRCT prep. I have a question regarding this – The administrator wants a teacher to have their students prepare and practice for a test that they will take in a little less than a year away on entirely different subject matter. Does this make much sense to you? I know it doesn’t to me. I also had a very dedicated teacher tell me that after the CRCT scores came in that her principal compared them to the previous year’s tests, keep in mind that these tests are completely different and cover entirely different subjects, essentially comparing apples and oranges. And when a couple of the students did not meet the “criteria” then she was accused of not teaching the children all year long. The teacher then told the principal that these students, whom were special education and ESOL (English as a second language) students, were not even in her class for the subject that did not meet the criteria. The principal then had the nerve to say that it didn’t matter because the student was in this particular teacher’s home room. That is like accusing a literature teacher of causing a student to fail a science test, how is this in any way reflective of this teacher’s ability to teach a class or a particular student? I know that teachers and administrators take these particular jobs because they care about kids and want to make a difference in their lives. With this in mind it makes me believe that pressures to produce higher CRCT test scores come from further up the chain, probably someone that doesn’t have hands on with the children. I would hope that we all could have learned from the cheating scandal at the Fulton County School System and realize that these high pressures and bullying techniques to produce higher test scores on a test, that the teachers don’t even know the content, doesn’t help to educate the children.

Some students don’t do well on standardized tests, so is this test a good way to measure what every child has learned? I believe there has to be a better way just as there is a better way to teach these students so that each child is able to learn. Each and every child is unique and learns in a very unique and individual manner. By the way these matters are handled directly reflects that the pressures come from someone that has a greater concern for the numbers and how they make him/her look instead of the knowledge that each child is receiving. I know that scores aren’t always reflective of the material that is learned. I personally learned more in a class that I had low grades in, and the lessons that I learned in that class couldn’t be tested on a standardized test but have followed me every day of my life. And thanks to a teacher that cared enough to teach the students I never learned anything in English, even through college, after the 6th grade. I’m not sure if this is a good thing and how it reflects on the secondary school system but I know that this particular public school teacher cared enough about her students not to teach to a test but to teach to usable knowledge that she knew we would need for the rest of our lives. It is teachers like this that actually care more about the students than their careers or being bullied whom make a difference in the lives of the children. These teachers have my upmost respect as they are often modern day martyrs in our traditional public education systems. Believe it or not there is something that you can do about this current situation. Educate yourself on the current school board members, the superintendent and the candidates for these positions. It has often been said to believe nothing that you hear and only ½ of what you see, this also applies here. Malcolm X once said “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” With this statement in mind don’t believe everything you read in newspapers or even blogs (I know this might seem strange coming from a blogger) but do some research. There are actual facts out there that give you the information that you need to make an informed decision. And keep in mind that even though experience is a great that sometimes you can get too comfortable in a position and it becomes a “status quo”.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

KELLI May 25, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Sorry but I just didn't feel like reading all of that...But I get the gist of it... why don't you start a Petition?
Listening May 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM
NCLB, CRCT and politicians who either never knew or long ago forgot the purpose of school are the reasons our schools are having problems. Parents need to make their voices heard at the federal, state and local level. You got this right, Addie Price.
Carla Palmieri May 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM
This topic has been on the tongues of nearly everyone I know with kids over the past month! It is appalling to know our schools don't care about our children, just making their grades! Teachers stopped teaching the minute the GCRCTs were finished! They have taught very little in the past month! There has been no homework assigned either! If our children are just going to play for the final month of school, why are they there?! They can play at home and save the school systems billions of dollars by closing the schools a month sooner! Did you know the kids are taught how to choose the best multiple choice answer rather than the material? How DOES one learn to spell this way? No wonder we have so many graduating seniors who can't spell, write, or do basic math without a calculator or spell check! Our rising 2nd grader doesn't even remember the sight words she learned in kindergarten because of this! Give our children knowledge and they can conquer the world! Teach them how to take tests, sit back and wait. In a few years, these students will be our leaders and won't even be able to have an educated conversation, causing us to fail the ultimate test...LIFE! Stop teaching my children how to pick a, b,c, or d! Instead, equip them to succeed with actual learning!
Holly J May 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM
We didn't have this testing nonsense until NCLB came in, with absolutely NO input from teachers, and demanded the impossible- 100% meeting standards by a randomly selected date. Yes, the kids still took a test, but the stakes weren't so astronomically high. There has to be an assessment of some sort and I do believe in holding schools accountable for teaching. But let's be careful about saying "Teaching to the test is the great evil." Teaching what's on the test is necessary- would you want to be tested on material that wasn't covered in class? The teachers HAVE to teach the curriculum. There's nothing wrong with teaching what will be tested, and in fact, that is their job. What in NOT helpful is teaching in such a way that the kids only know how to bubble in a Scantron sheet. But, when your school's AYP status and, potentially your job, hinges on how well they can bubble... Well, we're back to NCLB and such. The other issue, specific to GA, is that our curriculum is, and has been for as long as I can remember, 100 miles wide and 1/4 inch deep. We need to give the kids and teachers time to go a little more in depth with fewer topics to be covered each year. My daughter went from the Civil War to the civil rights movement between August and February. Skimming the surface is not effective education. But, that is a state issue, not something the local BOE has any control over, much like the testing. We need to look at our Gold Dome folks first.
Listening May 25, 2012 at 12:22 PM
2 of my kids have actually experienced a great last month of school. Their teachers embraced the learning time after CRCT. We've done hands on science experiments, and in depth social studies projects. My kids and their teachers have enjoyed learning since the test ended. I want the whole school year to be that way.
Holly J May 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Listening, I agree! My daughter has done experiments- launching a "rocket" just the other day- worked on some skills for next year, and reviewed what she learned this year. I would like to see that joy all year as well. But, how do we put the genie of high stakes testing back in the bottle? Everyone shouts for "accountability" but then complains about the testing. So, what's the better option?
Listening May 25, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Holly J., I'm pretty sure I don't know enough to fully answer that question. I do know my kids are tested all year long. They've taken multiple benchmarks, Cogat, ITBS, BLT and maybe more I don't even know about. Our school has more than enough testing data to prove progress or lack of it before the CRCT is even delivered. No one test can or should be the basis of everything. Heck, even the CRCT results tell you that a single exam can provide only limited information. If the state has to put a CYA on their own test, how can I have any faith in it? Politicians don't understand education. Teachers understand education. Unfortunately, so many people are determined to rip apart the very folks we entrust with our kids everyday. I am in my kids' school all the time. I've got a combined 14 years experience with kids in elementary school. I'm not even going to count how many teachers that is. The 14 years also doesn't include special needs services we got starting at 3. We've had 2 bad teachers. And I'm afraid to get started on all the things we ask them to do. They teach, counsel, babysit, referee, potty train, feed, chaperone, etc... They are basically parenting our children 6 or more hours a day AND getting tested on it. They have to deal with hitters, bitters, AIM kids, bullying. We should be asking them to tell us how to measure progress.
Holly J May 26, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Amen, Listening! I have never understood why teachers are consistently left out of the discussions regarding testing and teacher assessment. In my 10 years teaching, I saw many a dictate come down from either the state or the BOE that had crazy, unintended consequences. Why? Because NOBODY asked us "How will this work in your class or school?" And it's worse now. What I think we, collectively as a state and nation, need to reassess what it is we expect from schools. Personally, I expect the "3 R's" and other academic courses, of course. I believe that "character education" and "bully prevention" should be "homeschooled." And there are any number of other social ills that schools are expected to fix. We've dumped every societal problem on the schools to address, then holler when the "3 R's" are neglected. Well, which is it? There aren't enough hours in the day to cover all of it well. If we believe that schools' primary function and focus is producing an educated populace, then we need to stop requiring them to do the parents' job. If we want them to "fix" society's problems, then we really don't need teachers; we need therapists.
Listening May 26, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Holly J., I've never been a teacher, but I am a parent who is trying hard to pay attention to what is happening in school. I absolutely lose my cool every single time I hear people bashing teachers. There are some bad eggs, but they are a minority. I see our teachers arrive at school by 7 am. They often stay past 5 and they're lucky if they had a 20 minute break to wolf down lunch. Then they go home to their own family and spend half the evening working on lesson plans or grading or report cards or answering parent emails or the myriad of other things they can't do during a school day because they are actually working with our children. They come early or stay late to offed tutoring. They buy supplies with their own money because the school won't even give them enough paper to make copies for all the kids. They volunteer to lead academic bowl, spelling bees , clubs, etc... They spend their summers getting gifted certifications or taking classes on the latest mandated "new" teaching methods or curriculum changes. Then they have to contend with ignorant comments about being overpaid for the 180 days they work. They work a lot more than 180 days. The nation would be shocked by the cost if we switched teachers to an hourly pay. It just makes me furious. AND they receive little support from parents in general. All the Moms want to be the party planning Mom. Few want to relieve some of the real burden. Make some copies so the teacher can go home to her own kids.
Listening May 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Quit scheduling your kids for 1000 different after school activities that result in your complaining about homework. Homework might not be vital in elementary school, but good study habits are a learned skill and your kid better have that skill developed by middle school. I also despise teacher appreciation week. Do teachers really want or need another coffee mug or Christmas ornament? I doubt it. I bet they would much rather have parents that provide well behaved, rested, nourished kids who know Mom and Dad WILL make them wish they had done their best in school that day. I bet teachers would rather see parents screaming at our legislators to get teachers the time and materials they need to properly educate out kids. Sorry for the long winded rant. Can you tell what I think is wrong with education today?
Cherokee Mom May 29, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I would like to give kudos to a teacher who once taught at Mtn Road, and I believe she is now at Arnold Mill. Her name was Lisa Elliott, but I believe she has gotten married and changed her last name. I remember many parents complaining on all the homework she sent home, and I was one of them. However, this is the teacher I can pin point that taught my son how to study, and get through medical school. So if anyone is reading this and knows her, know she is doing a good job!
Cherokee Mom May 29, 2012 at 05:45 PM
On another note, teaching to the test, have you noticed the only week you get memo's home to make sure your child has had a good breakfast, a good nights rest, etc. is the week of the CRCT's. Shouldn't we be doing that anyway?
No More Bullies June 07, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Why I appreciate the intent of the piece, there are some factual inaccuracies in this article. AYP stands for Adequate Yearly Progress (not Annual), and as Georgia requested and received waiver from NCLB last year, there is no more AYP for Georgia schools. Yes, it will be replaced with another measure, start looking for CCRPI references instead of NCLB, but if the author is going to write intelligently about education, she should stay up to speed on the changes occuring. Also, it was not Fulton County School System Ms. Price cited above that was at the center of the cheating scandal, it was Atlanta Public Schools.


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