Pupils in McDuffie County elementary schools have passed the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), and instilled pride in their leaders. This is the second year Georgia mandates third graders to pass the test in reading, and the first year fifth graders are required to pass the test in reading and math, in order to be promoted to the next grade level.
"We are very proud of our students," said Dr. Kathy Collins, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "I think we're the best secret in this area."
The CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire, learn, and accomplish the knowledge and skills in Georgia's curriculum. This differs from non-referenced tests, such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, which measure instructional standards commonly taught throughout the United States.
Ninety-six percent of McDuffie pupils in third grade and 90 percent of all fifth graders passed the reading test. The ones who failed scored within just a few points of the 300 passing score. These pupils are attending summer school four days each week from June 1 through June 29.
Carol Farr, third grade summer school teacher, said they are concentrating on "a lot of reading, because reading is the foundation of all learning." Pupils also use CRCT online worksheets, and practice answering questions "as much like the actual testing as possible."
"You'd be surprised how well the children have handled all the extra work. They seem to know that once they are finished, they'll have the rest of the summer to play," Mrs. Farr said.
Dearing is the only school in McDuffie County that has both a third grade and a fifth grade. Linda Grisham, principal of Dearing Elementary, said only a few fifth graders didn't pass the test.
Mrs. Grisham said she feels the tests are harder for fifth graders, "because they've had more obstacles to overcome. ... Summer school teachers are working with the fifth graders almost one-on-one. ... I'm confident the pupils will all pass when they retake the test next week."
One hundred percent of all Dearing Elementary third grade pupils passed the reading test.
"I'm telling you, those third graders are phenomenal," said Dr. Grisham. "We had many who had 100 percent not just in reading, but in math, language-arts, and social studies. ... I'm proud of this community, the parents, and their children."