CRT test scores lower than anticipated

Published 3:56 pm Thursday, October 13, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
Escambia County Middle School was completely restructured this year with the addition of Zickeyous Byrd as principal. The only other option was a complete takeover by the State of Alabama due to repeated low-test scores.
Byrd began the school year with an assertive plan of action that he had previously implemented in a Mobile County school.
The new principal implemented a quarterly testing plan for students in an attempt to evaluate their progress. The test, Criterion Reference Test or CRT, is based on questions similar to the ones found on the state wide Stanford Achievement Test.
"I am thankful for the CRT's." Byrd said, "Without the test we would have assumed that our students were proficient in all academic areas. With the test it shows us where they are now and where they need to be for the state test later on. It is better that we know where the students are now, so that we can work on those areas."
The CRT is not a state assessment. The test is basically an optional mock of the state SAT that is required for school ratings.
This testing program holds the students, teachers and principal to a level of accountability. The CRT's are sent to Quiz Tracks, a company that analyzes test scores, where they will be evaluated and the results will be posted on the company's website which will enable teachers to see individual student grades, determining the students' strong and weak areas.
"The State will only look at data of our test performance." Byrd said, "They are not going to look at the improvement in discipline problems, the parental support or the community involvement and support. They only look at the data."
Byrd will meet with each teacher one-on-one each quarter to discuss a specific plan of action for their class.
"We have to justify to the state what is being done," Byrd said. "If these scores don't go up, I won't have a job. Every class, every subject is measured. Data drives me. My decisions are based on what the data says."
According to Byrd, the teachers were a bit fretful at the beginning of the year in regards to his plan, but now he is proud to hear them talking positively and consistently about CRT's.
Teachers are given a pacing guide that gives a specific objective to teach each week. At the end of the nine weeks, the students are then tested on all of the objectives covered in that time frame to evaluate what the students have learned.
The middle school has just completed its first nine weeks of school giving Byrd his first indicator of the student's academic standings.
"This first quarter was a benchmark for Escambia County." Byrd said, "I am looking for a better second quarter."
The preliminary scores obtained from the first nine weeks test have left Byrd disappointed but optimistic at the same time.
"I have high expectations." Byrd said, "I had an objective of the students making at least 70 percent or higher." A score of 70 percent would rate the student as being proficient in a given subject area. Too many students at ECMS did not reach the 70 percent mark according to Byrd.
Byrd has already talked with his students about the test results. The students have indicated a feeling of disappointment as well. Some even admitted that they did not take the test seriously and didn't study.
The CRT will reflect on the student's report card as part of a subjects overall grade. The test represents 20 percent of the class grade. The school offers a Saturday school in an effort to assist students in areas of weakness. Only about 100 kids took part in the program during the first quarter. Byrd hopes to see that number increase.
If motivation is key, Byrd should have no worries. He has offered students a day out of their school uniform and a free after-school dance if they will get their test scores up.
Byrd came to ECMS from a Mobile County school, where he completed this same plan and did so successfully in a one year time period.
"I want parents to know that all the implements I've made have been researched based." Byrd said. "I ask them to have faith in what I am doing. I know that it will work for this school, but for it to happen change must take place."

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