Across Metro Atlanta school systems are strengthening the parent-child-teacher link with testing workshops.
DeKalb County hosted the second of two Districtwide CRCT & EOCT Parent Workshop and Title 1 Academic Booster Workshop. More than 100 people came out to the DeKalb district headquarters in Stone Mountain on Tuesday evening. The previous Saturday, more than 300 parents packed the workshops.
The events’ focus included building on parent and family involvement in the testing and educational process. The workshop discussed important testing information, test-taking strategies and provided each parent participant with a flash drive loaded with tools to improve student growth and achievement.
High school students attending asked questions about the End-of-Course Tests (EOCT), a state of Georgia requirement measuring specific content skills and knowledge on a high school level. In 2011 – 2012 year, the EOCT became Georgia’s high school accountability assessment as part of the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).
Many parents asked questions about the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). This is the promotional requirement for students in the third, fifth and eighth grades. The CRCT measure whether a students is meeting or exceeding grade level content standards and covers the five subject areas of: Reading, English/Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.
Under Georgia’s Promotion, Placement and Retention Law, if a student does not achieve at minimum 800 or above on the test, the student will not be promoted to the next grade level. Third graders must past the reading test for promotion, and fifth and eighth graders must past both reading and math tests for promotion.
Among the parent’s concerns included how well are schools making sure students are truly prepared to take such an intense tests including as many as 70 questions split into two sections.
Workshop presenter, Curriculum and Instructional Executive Director, Morcease Beasley pointed to the value of introducing students to content and expectations of the test at the beginning and throughout the year. He said it is not enough to just introduce test information just a few weeks before CRCT time.
“It’s also important to build test taking stamina” said Beasley. “An effective teacher builds into the instruction the opportunity to take longer test…so that by February a student has been exposed to taking longer timed test.”
This is one goal speaks toward addressing a key question among parents at Tuesday’s workshop and that’s test taking anxiety. Some parents are worried about student anxiety and the impact that could have on their child being promoted.
Beasley says it’s important to understand that while the CRCT is a required test for promotion, a student’s overall academic performance is always taken into consideration. Also by law the Grade Placement Committee made up of teachers, the principal and the parents, must also meet if a child does not pass and then a determination is made. And finally, any child that does not meet the CRCT score standards is given a chance to retake the CRCT before the end of the school year.
Another concern is the fact that students lost 8 days of instructional time due to the January and February ice storms. Educators are taking this into consideration by making teaching changes to insure students are gaining critical core standards. Also DeKalb County modified its school calendar by adding five more instructional days which in effect moved up the testing date for the CRCT.
2014 CRCT for DeKalb County happens April 22-May 1. The remediation phase follows May 2 -19 until test results are back, and re-testing for student who did not pass will occur May 20-22.
Among the most important things parents should remember is to always keep the doors of communication open with teachers year-round, and take advantage of all tutorial opportunities offered in the school system. Every school makes these tutorial times available at either the beginning of the school day, at the end of the day or through Saturday school options.
Among the list of test taking tips for parents and families include:
- Ensure students are practicing and reviewing skills daily
- Ensure students are reminded to leave no questions blank on the test.
- Ensure students get plenty of rest the night before each test
- Ensure students eat breakfast the morning before the test
- Ensure students are encouraged and told that they are going to do well
Visit http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/news-and-info/press-releases/2014-instructional-resources.pdf for a list of online K-12 Instructional Resources.