At least the state is talking about paying for the problem it caused. Now if someone could convince us that it matters.
This year's Criterion Reference Competency Test has been a disaster. The state discarded the results of the sixth- and seventh-grade social studies exams because most students failed.
It kept the eighth-grade math test, however, even though 40 percent of the state's students failed. In Columbia County, 27 percent failed. This is important because students are supposed to pass the math CRCT to be promoted to ninth grade.
Before retaking the test, those failing students will have to endure a summer-school catch-up class, costing local taxpayers more than $30,000 in teacher pay. Fortunately, the state Department of Education says it hopes to pick up part of the cost.
In any event, this sorry episode highlights two problems:
First, the test itself is a mess. The state upgraded the math curriculum, and then created a test that overshot what the students were learning in the classroom.
Worse, as a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals, the state doesn't keep up with the results of the CRCT anyway!
"Despite the high-stakes nature of Georgia's (CRCT)," the AJC reports, "the state doesn't track the ultimate outcome of those who fail."
Instead, individual school systems decide what happens to students who fail the CRCT. Columbia County could ignore the outcome and promote the students anyway; the state doesn't care.
"We don't collect that data," a state DOE spokesman says. "The school districts collect that data. It's a school district decision."
In short? The importance of these tests is an illusion - because the DOE also admits most of the students who fail are promoted anyway.
So all this anxiety is over a test that doesn't matter. Is it any wonder public education in Georgia has such a perpetual black eye?
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