McDuffie County schools expect great things from their students, but they hold themselves responsible for making that happen.
That's why students will begin benchmark testing today- to see how well they have learned the required curriculum which they will need for the Criterion Reference Competency Test in the spring.
In order to track progress and see how well students are learning the required curriculum, schools will hold benchmark testing over several days, said Kathryn Collins, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
"Generally, the purpose of benchmark testing is to make sure we are teaching what we need to teach incrementally throughout the year," Dr. Collins said.
Teachers present the material for nine weeks, then students are tested to see how well they learned it.
Local teachers collaborate on the content of benchmark tests, then compile the results and target any weak areas.
"The test allows us to go back and look at an individual kid, or a group of kids, or maybe even a whole classroom, and see how they did. We can say, 'They didn't do well on question eight. What is it that the question asks?'" Dr. Collins said.
Benchmark tests are administered in the normal routine of the day, and children are told to simply "Show what you know," said Mychele Swain, principal of Maxwell Elementary.
"It's not a high anxiety test," she said.
The benchmark tests will help prepare students for the spring CRCT. McDuffie County schools have historically performed well on the CRCT, and last April The McDuffie Mirror reported the school system had a 6.5 percent increase in scores from the previous year. Good scores in this test have helped all four elementary schools to make Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act, and to be named Title I Distinguished Schools.
Administering the tests "is just the right thing to do to make sure our kids know what they need to know to prepare them for the next grade," Dr. Collins said.