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NCLB Outrages

Eighth graders failing to pass

Large number of students fail the CRCT, leaving summer school packed. Wouldn't you think parents would start demanding to scrutinize the test? And hiring experts to scrutinize it? It just seems amazing that this is being done in secrecy.

Sample Social Studies item
Dalton, Georgia, and nearby towns
produce about one third of the world’s
supply of which manufactured product?
A. paper
B. kaolin
C. lumber
D. carpet

This is listed in the domain of Economics.

by Rabyn Ratliff

VALDOSTA — More Georgia eighth graders than ever before will be taking summer school classes, trying to be promoted to high school in the fall after failing the CRCT, and Valdosta is no exception.

“With the new Georgia performance standards and the No Child Left Behind Act, each year requirements and standards change. The CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Test) began, initially requiring that third and sixth grade students pass reading and math in order to be promoted. Now, fifth and eighth graders have been included,” said Valdosta Middle Summer School Director and Assistant Principal Marcia Collins.

As curriculum standards and test score requirements increase, student performance does not always follow. Information released by the Georgia Department of Education this week states 41,000 eighth graders failed the math and reading portions of the CRCT combined. In the Valdosta system, administrators and teachers are noticing first hand the effects of a seemingly jumping standard, quickly moving over the reach of some, and placing many eighth grade students in a sea of those left behind.

“There were a sizable number of students who failed the math and reading portions of the CRCT this year. Between J.L. Newbern and Valdosta Middle, we sent letters to a little over 200 eighth grade students and we typically have only about 125 students overall. Because we want these students to have every opportunity to move on to high school, our objective this summer is to remediate eighth grade students to a point of achieving a passing grade on the CRCT,” Collins said.

Although Valdosta Middle will only be offering summer school to eighth graders, Collins said several remediation courses will be available during the 2006-07 school year to those sixth and seventh grade students who were not given an opportunity to attend summer courses.

Parents of students unable to take summer school due to the higher than usual number of eighth graders have called The Valdosta Daily Times to complain about the lack of space for sixth and seventh grade students. Due to space limitations, remedial classes during the school year will remain their only option.

“Because the state only required that eighth-graders pass the CRCT in order to be promoted, the administrators and teachers met and it was decided that most of the sixth and seventh graders who were at risk of failing before summer school will be promoted to the next grade level. We will be offering remedial course support in math and reading to those students throughout the year, however, to help bring them up and above where they need to be,” Collins said.

While engaging in a 20 day crash course of nearly 30 weeks worth of material, teachers have developed strategies to present a fresh learning plan of direct instruction, computer applications and for the first-time, summer homework assignments, to help bring test scores up to par and carry the students into their high school career on time. Following summer school courses, eighth grade students will be given another opportunity to pass failing portions of the CRCT.

As school systems throughout the nation continue to face the challenges and changes of the No Child Left Behind Act, Georgia educators have issued higher performance standards, designed to raise the bar of education quality and push Georgia students up in the rankings of national academic performers.

— Rabyn Ratliff
Valdosta Daily Times


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