Officials analyze CRCT tests

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Three officials representing the Dougherty County School System flew to Indianapolis and examined test sheets Tuesday that were flagged as part of the Georgia Governor's Office of Student Achievement's first statewide erasure analysis of last spring's Criterion Referenced Competency Test.

DCSS Public Information Director R.D. Harter estimated the two-day trip will cost the school system $2,500-$3,000. Dougherty County Test Coordinator Renee Bridges, Georgia Professional Standards Commission's Gerald Eads and Education Planners' James Wilson, the School Board's consultant, looked at the test forms at CTB-McGraw Hill's secure warehouse location from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday. Eads and Wilson provided their services at no cost to Dougherty County except for coverage of travel expenses.

"The expense of the trip will be reimbursed at the appropriate state rates," Executive Director of Operations and Business Services Robert Lloyd said.

Dougherty County officials went to Indianapolis after the Governor's Office of Student Achievement gave school systems that had "severe concern" or "moderate concern" lists requirements they would have to follow to review student test sheets. The state provided two options, one in which systems could look at 150 test sheets that GOSA officials selected at its office during a two-hour period, or a second in which local officials could inspect at any test sheets during an eight-hour window in Indianapolis.

State school systems could look at individual test forms for grades three-eight. The first two grades were unavailable because some of those test questions are repeated on this year's test. More than 60 percent of Dougherty's class sections that were flagged by the state were in first or second grade.

Last month, Dougherty County School System found eight of its elementary schools placed on the state's "severe concern" list and six other schools placed on the "moderate concern" list after GOSA conducted its first erasure analysis. The analysis, which state officials conducted did with state testing vendor CTB-McGraw Hill, investigated answers that were erased and changed from wrong to right on student answer sheets in reading, English/language arts and math.

The 74 schools that were listed on the "severe concern" list hailed from 12 county school systems -- Atlanta City, Dougherty, DeKalb, Clayton, Muscogee, Richmond, Fulton, Quitman, Bibb, Carroll and Spalding and Gainesville City. Sandersville's Department of Juveniles was the other school on the list. Schools that made the "severe concern" list had a school with 25 percent or more of its class sections flagged for wrong-to-right answers.

Atlanta Public Schools, which had the top five worst erasure scores and 16 of the top 18 with Parks Middle School leading the list at 89.5 percent, also planned to make a trip to Indianapolis. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Public Schools hired Caveon Test Security of Utah to analyze its results and established a 15-person Blue Ribbon Commission team. The contract with Caveon was estimated to cost $100,000-$130,000.

Bibb County Deputy Superintendent Catherine B. Magouyrk said that school officials planned to view test documents at the GOSA office. Bibb County had two elementary schools that were on the "severe" list.

Carroll County only had one school on the "severe" list and its public information director, Elena Schulenburg, said the system didn't plan to view the documents. She also said, "We're not really doing anything differently, but might've tweaked some different procedures inside our organization."

Griffin-Spalding County School System had two schools on the "severe" list and also didn't plan to view individual test documents.

"We got the names of the students and the number of erasures they had (from the GOSA recently)," said Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Denise Burrell, who earlier this month ran in Albany's half-marathon.

Gainesville City School System Superintendent Merrianne B. Dyer said officials there weren't going to view the test documents either after only having one school flagged on the "severe" list.

"We weren't invited because we did not make a request for that of the OSA office," Dyer said. "Our take on it is that our first- and second-grade answer booklets were erased in places. However, we did not think that viewing them could give us any more information. We wanted to focus on the analysis and the independent review of the data."

Calls made by The Herald to DeKalb, Clayton, Muscogee, Richmond, Fulton and Quitman County school systems were not returned.

If school system officials choose to examine answer documents, they must do so before the end of the month. They also had to pick between the two options and follow strict conditions.