Students to take state assessment tests

COVINGTON - Newton County elementary and middle school students have just over a week before they have to take their annual CRCT, or Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

First- through eighth-grade students will take the annual state-administered test starting April 21, at their schools.

Students will take the reading portion April 21; Language Arts on April 22; Math on April 23; Science on April 24; and Social Studies on April 25.

Students who are absent during the tests will have the opportunity to take a makeup test sometime during the next week, from April 28 through May 1.

"The CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in the Georgia Performance Standards and the Quality Core Curriculum," according to the Georgia Department of Education Web site. "The assessments yield information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system and state levels. This information is used to diagnose individual student strengths and weaknesses ... and to gauge the quality of education throughout Georgia."

Some tests in math, science and social studies already have been transitioned from QCC to the new GPS, while others have not.

Sheila Thomas, director of testing for the Newton County School System, said the tests aren't really ones students can study for ahead of time.

"Teaching the curriculum is preparing them for the test," she said. "Teachers will give them test-taking strategies ... but what they are learning is letting them practice all year."

During testing week, students begin each CRCT section each morning in their classrooms. Students in first and second grades have approximately 60 minutes to complete each test, while students in grades three through eight have about 45 minutes per section, not including distribution and gathering of materials.

Students who score below 800 on a test do not meet standards; students who receive between 800 and 849 are meeting standards; students who have a score of 850 and above are exceeding standards.

"We want students to do the best they can on any assessment," Thomas said.

Third-grade students must pass reading, and fifth- and eighth-grade students must pass reading and math in order to be promoted to the next grade level. The scores also count towards the schools' and school system's Adequate Yearly Progress.

Last school year, 85 percent of Newton County's third-grade students met or exceeded reading standards. For fifth-grade students, 87 percent met or exceeded standards in reading and math. In eighth grade, 89 percent of students met or exceeded reading standards and 79 percent in math.

"We're very proud of our students and wish them the very best; we know they will do well," Thomas said.

She said the school system encourages parents to get their students to relax and also stressed the importance of eating a good breakfast each day of the test.

Students can take practice tests by visiting www.georgiaoas.org and www.doe.k12.ga.us.

SideBar: At a glance

What: Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT)

Who: Newton County first- through eighth-grade


When: April 21-25

Where: At the students' respective schools

More information: Visit www.gadoe.org

Testing Schedule:

· April 21 - Reading

· April 22 - Language Arts

· April 23 - Math

· April 24 - Science

· April 25 - Social Studies

· April 28-May 1 - Makeups