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Schools prepare for the CRCT tests
041408 CRCT RALLY 1
Brooklet Elementary School fourth grade teacher Katy Richter, right, leads a group of fellow teachers and Georgia Southern football players into the midst of students during a CRCT preparation rally Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Next week, students all across the state will begin taking mandatory tests — even those in first grade.
    The Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) are required for grades 1-8, said Brenda Kingery, Bulloch County Board of Education testing and data analysis specialist.
    The test "measures how well students perform on the Georgia Performance standards," she said. Students must do well on the test, meeting certain requirements, in order to pass to the next grade if they are in grades 3, 5 or 8.
    Third graders must pass the reading portion of the test, while students in grades 5 and 8 must pass reading as well as math testing.
    If they do not perform well enough, they are given the opportunity to attend remedial classes and take the test again during the summer, she said.
    Students in grades 1 and 2 are tested in areas of reading, English/language arts, and math. Students in grades 3-8 are also  tested in science and social studies, Kingery said.
    Monday, students in grades 6-8 will begin testing. Students in grades 1-5 will begin testing Wednesday, she said.
    Reading will be the first course of testing, followed by English/language arts the second day, and math on  the third day. Those in grades 3-8 will have a fourth day of testing on science, and a fifth day of testing on social studies.
    "All testing will be completed by April 30," Kingery said.
    Students are taught year-long with the  tests in mind, she said. "We work closely with the Georgia curriculum and Georgia Performance standards that are taught in the classroom."
    Students can prepare for the tests online as well, and parents are given passwords to programs that will help  their child achieve a higher level of learning and thus score higher on the tests, she said.
    Some schools, such as Brooklet Elementary, held kick-off events such as pep rallies to gear students up for the grueling  test week. Other schools kept things on a different level.
    "It varies at different schools," said Sallie Zetterower Elementary Principal Todd Williford. "We've kept a steady pace, and let the students know the importance of (testing). We don't want to add any stress, so there was no kick off. The focus is keeping business as usual and (for students) to give 100 percent all the time."
    Whether individual school leaders choose to make a celebratory event of the testing week or aim for minimal excitement and less distractions, the focus overall  is that students learn what they need to know throughout the year, Kingery said.
    The CRCT is given each spring to gauge what students have learned and where they stand regarding state performance expectations, she said.
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