## Decatur Students Again Score Well on CRCT as Test is Retired

Decatur Metro | June 25, 2014 | 6:38 pmIn the final year of Georgia’s CRCT testing, City Schools of Decatur students seem to have again posted average scores above 90% in all 5 disciplines, inline with the strong scores put up by the city school system last year. (We had to pull together the data above from various sources. I promise you, it was fun. Click it to enlarge)

According to the AJC, in DeKalb…

…86 percent of third graders met or exceeded the reading standard, as did 89 percent of fifth graders and 91 percent of eighth graders. The biggest change from the prior year was in fifth grade, where there was a 2.8 percentage point increase in the number of students passing.

It was a different story in math, where there was more change in the key grades: the third grade pass rate rose by 2.9 percentage points, but fifth grade dropped 2.8 points and eighth was down 3.9 points. The actual math pass rates were low compared to reading, where the percent of students who met or exceeded the standards ranged from the high 80s to the low 90s. The pass rate in math was 68 percent for third graders, 76 percent for fifth graders and 65 percent for eighth graders.

The AJC has summaries for all Atlanta metro counties HERE.

CRCT is being retired this year and replaced with “Georgia Milestones”, reportedly a more demanding test that will span all grades 3-12, instead of the current system where 3rd-8th graders take CRCT and 9th-12th graders take EOCT.

I love analyzing these reports. You can usually interpret them according to whatever your pre-conceived notions are. Here’s my quick off-the-cuff observations:

1) The influx of new families with young kids is bringing up our test scores.

2) I know the 8th graders look like slackards compared to their younger schoolmates but we have to look at that cohort over time. Maybe this year’s scores are great for that particular group of kids–i.e. you should have seen their third grade scores!

3) Lumping “Met” and “Exceeded” Standards together makes our students look great. But the “Exceeded” category is more meaningful. Having looked at plenty of practice or previously given CRCT tests over the years, I think most of our kids could “meet” expectations without ever showing up in class. And not just because our kids are smart and good-looking and above-average and all that, but because test is so poorly designed and written.

4) “Stones” seem to be a new theme in education–We have “Georgia Milestones” now instead of a competency test and “capstone events” instead of graduation. (Not that criterion-referenced competency test” was ever self-explanatory either.)

I’m curious about your first point. Can you give some more detail about why you think this is? Not challenging you; I just hadn’t heard it expressed before.

And yes, I am aware I ended a sentence with a preposition. That one is for STG. 🙂

It’s just the superficial observation that the percent met/exceeded generally decreases with increasing grade level. And the assumption that the younger grades reflect the tidal wave of new families of young children moving into Decatur. But a trend doesn’t prove causation. It probably isn’t fair to compare the first grade CRCT exam to the 8th grade one. Maybe the first graders will do just the same as today’s 8th graders when they reach 8th grade. And the well-known variability in the quality of the CRCT from year to year, never mind between grade levels, makes most comparisons moot except when huge changes occur. Even then, my first guess would be the exam or cheating.

If there truly IS an increase in performance by the younger students compared to the older ones, my guess is that the increasing affluence and education levels of families moving in is responsible. My children have both noticed a change in the socioeconomic composition of their classes over the years they’ve been in CSD. Gentrification and affluence are good for test scores.

P.S.: I can’t find the preposition with which you ended a sentence. Unless you mean “before”. In this case, I believe that “before” is being used as an expression of time, not as a preposition. I think you’re cool grammatically. STG will let us know.

OK, thanks.

And you’re correct. I thought “is” was a preposition, but it’s not. I’m glad I’m not taking the CRCT. I would bring down the average score.

And I might not pass the math. I could not for the life of me master the new option for dividing that is taught–using some kind of grid or matrix. I can only use the old method of divide into the first digit(s), multiply, subtract, bring down the next digit, repeat. I am not sure that teaching kids the multiple ways to do any particular math operation is so great at the K-3 level. The 10-20% of kids whose brains are pre-wired for math concepts do great. The other 80-90% of kids pick up a little of this and a little of that and reassemble it in interesting, but not necessarily functional, ways to do math.

There’s a new way to divide now?? I use your method.

Or a sword. Those divide good too.

I’d explain it to you but I don’t have a clue. Just remembered that the term used was “array” but it looked like a grid of numbers aka matrix to me. It definitely didn’t seem like something you could do quickly on the back of your grocery list. It becomes a moot point after a certain age because the kids start doing all arithmetic on their cell phones. (As an aside, I’d love to take all the DHS kids who score over 700 on their Math SAT and determine what percentage know their “times tables”, now known as “multiplication facts”. It might be lower than you’d think.)

My Renfroe kid recently showed it to me. It really doesn’t take too much more time than long division, and might work for some.

BUT … one my standard math gripes is that my kids sometimes run in circles trying to answer a math question “the desired way” when they already completely understand the concept, and know how to get the answer. And I don’t necessarily blame their CSD teachers – it is more the fault of the materials. Most of these annoying questions come from poorly worded workbook questions. They often use imprecise grammar, or are simply too vague. I tell my kids to stop working on the problem when multiple people in our household start arguing over what the question is actually asking 🙂 To their credit, the kids’ teachers are often sympathetic when they point out such ambiguities.

We’re not math-impaired parents. I’m an engineering professor, and my spouse has a PhD in Applied Math. And yet sometime we have no clue what their homework is actually asking. My kids’ grades speak for themselves, so I tell them to just let these frustrations slide and move on. But such reassurances fall on deaf ears to a stressed out kid who doesn’t want to leave an answer incomplete!

Sounds like “Everyday Math,” which (absurdly, in my view) largely rejects the standard algorithms for math problems like division.

Several years ago, when CSD K-3 math CRCT and MAP scores weren’t up to snuff, the Clairemont SLT looked into math curricula for its Saturday Math School and used something other than Everyday Math. I know some parents advocated for changing to that curriculum but I think CSD is wedded to Everyday Math.

It’s over? Good.

This past year was a rough one, especially for fourth graders. The number of classes more than doubled, Common Core hit the schools, and there were a lot of online tools introduced, which must have burdened teachers as much as it confused many students.

I’ve spoken with a number of other parents who considered fourth grade this past year a wash, at best. The end of CRCT is welcome.