Latest round of CRCT tests begins in Dougherty County

Build up to testing included pep rallies and musical numbers.

Students across Dougherty County spent much of Monday's school day undergoing the latest round of the controversial CRCT testing program. Meanwhile, the GBI investigation into 2009's CRCT results continues.

Officials with the Dougherty County School System say they're eager to see how students perform on the CRCT. But they may be even more anxious to put the state's criminal investigation into past irregularities with the test behind them. "We see this as an opportunity for teachers to learn if they're being successful with the students in their class," said R.D. Harter of the Dougherty County School System.

Harter says the DCSS has been looking forward to this year's Criterion Referenced Competency Tests but he warns that the results aren't always what they seem. That's because the standards for achieving Adequate Yearly Progress â" or AYP â" increase each time the test is given. "There are increasing values that you have to meet each year so you could do better this year than last year and still achieve an overall lower score," said Harter.

The tests will be administered to all elementary and middle school students through Thursday, with extra days built-in for students who miss class or, for whatever reason, do not complete the test."You have to take their paper and seal it in a plastic bag and you seal it an envelope and you put tape on the envelope and you write your name from the tape to the envelope," explained Harter.

Such procedures may sound more suited for CSI than CRCT but with the ongoing G-B-I investigation into past results, school system officials aren't taking any chances.

Attorney for DCSS Tommy Coleman describes the investigation as a dark cloud over the school system that may remain for some time. "I think the longer that we don't hear from them about this, the more likelihood it will go into the early part of the next school year," said Coleman.

We wanted to go inside some Dougherty County schools and speak to teachers and students about the kind of pressure they might be feeling. But school officials told us they're under strict orders from the state to keep all outsiders away from the classrooms. "The schools are closed this week and we'd like to ask the parent's and community's cooperation with that request," added Harter.

To help students with the testing, school administrators ask parents to make sure their children eat healthy meals and get plenty of sleep.