State's final CRCT results show eighth-grade improvement

Eighth-graders in Georgia showed gains across all content areas in this year’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, including an eight percentage point spike in exceeding expectations for reading.

The Georgia Department of Education released the results on Thursday for the final year the state will administer the CRCTs. Next year, all students from third through eighth grade will take a new test called Georgia Milestones, which is being billed as one program across all grades from third grade through high school.

District level CRCT results are expected to be released by June 26, while school results will be available by July 10.

Georgia eighth-graders showed a two percentage point increase in English and language arts, a three percentage point jump in math, a three percentage point increase in science and a two percentage point rise in social studies.

Overall, 97 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded expectations in reading, 95 percent did in English and language arts, 82 percent did in math, 78 percent did in science and 81 percent did in social studies.

Seventh-graders, though, had the highest number of students across the curriculum who met or exceeded expectations. In seventh grade, 83 percent met or exceeded expectations in social students, which was the lowest figure of any academic subject for that grade.

Science proved to be the most difficult subject of the six grades of students measured.

Third-graders, sixth-graders and eighth-graders all scored at 78 percent or below on the number who met or exceeded expectations in science.

No decreases were experienced on reading tests where grades four, five and six saw gains, while grades three, seven and eight stayed the same.

DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza said the new testing system is one consistent program across grades 3-12, rather than a series of individual tests. It will include open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery and, with some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation.

Georgia Milestones will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in English and language arts and math and Georgia Performance Standards in science and social studies.

“This testing system will require more from students than the CRCT and (End of Course Test) it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress,” Cardoza said.

The DOE also reiterated that the increased expectations for learning may mean initially lower scores than previous year’s CRCT or EOCT scores, but that should bring Georgia’s tests in line with other indicators of how students are performing.