Monthly Archives: September 2013

The 2013 CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Test) Results at Hope-Hill

Multiple controversies surround the role and significance of standardized teststress1testing in the public schools. Glib and unhelpful pronouncements abound. We cannot solve the controversies, and will try to avoid the glib pronouncements.  Several points stand out.

Some Good News

While Hope-Hill has yet to match the schools in Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average, we are happy to report that a significant minority “exceeded expectations” for their grade levels. Among Hope-Hill fifth graders who took the CRCT in the spring of 2013, about 18 percent “exceeded the standard” in reading.[1]  These are “students [who were] consistently able to determine central ideas or themes of a text, analyze their development, and summarize the key supporting details and ideas.  They [exhibited] an in-depth understanding of how to infer and analyze various literary elements and techniques.  They [were] able to make judgments and inferences and substantiate them with evidence from the text. …”[2]

In math, 21 percent of Hope-Hill’s fifth graders “exceeded expectations” because they demonstrated “broad and in-depth evidence of conceptual and abstract knowledge of the four content domains. They [had] an advanced understanding of the place value system. They [were] proficient in performing operations with multi-digit whole numbers and with decimals to thousandths. They [used] equivalent fractions as a strategy to add and subtract fractions. …”

The Good News Qualified and Put in Context

It’s great that a fifth of Hope-Hill’s fifth graders are very proficient in reading and math, but remember this. UUCA supporters joined with many others in Hope-Hill’s neighborhood to push, successfully, for inclusion of Hope-Hill in the “Grady Cluster” of schools feeding into Inman Middle School and Grady High School.

That means that, a short time ago, when last year’s fifth graders started sixth grade with students from other schools, they were sitting next to  graduates of other elementary schools where between 42 and 76 percent of students—not 18 percent—“exceeded standards” in reading. And where between 37 and 80 percent—not just 21 percent—“exceeded standards” in math.

And What About the “Average” Kids?

They’re often overlooked, but let’s not make that mistake. In math, 51 percent of Hope-Hill’s fifth graders fell into the middle range of kids that “met the standard.” Combined with the 21 percent who were significantly better than average, we get a total of 72 percent who didn’t fail. (See, we tutors can do math, too.)

The reading picture is much the same: 57 percent “met the standard,” and 18 percent “exceeded the standard,” which meant that a total of 75 percent passed.

It doesn’t sound too bad, when you look at it like that; certainly, it could be worse. But the results from the other four schools in the Grady Cluster are much more skewed toward the upper “exceeds standards” band. For example, at Mary Lin, where 95 percent of the fifth graders passed reading, two thirds  of those who passed were in the “exceeds” category and only one third in the “meets standards” band.

And there’s another piece of bad news for the “average” kids at Hope-Hill. In science, 54 percent of the fifth graders failed, compared with 11, 8, 2, and 7 percent, respectively for the other four public elementary schools in the Grady Cluster. The results in social studies were very much the same.

Perhaps, if a Hope-Hill graduate enters sixth grade knowing how to read and do math, she’ll be able over the coming years to make up what she doesn’t know about science and American history. But still …

Kids with Big Challenges

Our experience and our observations tell us that a minority, but a significant minority, of Hope-Hill students enter kindergarten lacking a good “number sense”—and have a vocabulary that’s much smaller than a lot of kids have at that age. It’s a major lift for the teachers to close the gap during the elementary school years. In fact, it’s a major lift to keep the gap between challenged kids and the privileged kids from growing a lot wider.

Look at last year’s results for fifth graders at the five public elementary schools in the Grady Cluster:

% Failing Reading

% Failing Math

Centennial Place






Mary Lin






Springdale Park



Our Challenge

Our congregation has been at Hope-Hill for two decades. We know the children, and we know that they are just as capable of learning as the kids at the other schools.  We also know that a good many of them face circumstances that make learning hard. Our challenge is to support the principal, faculty, and staff of Hope-Hill in overcoming these obstacles to learning.

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