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School adopts new ways to review for CRCTs
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 As the Criterion Referenced Competency Test wraps up this week, teachers and administrators throughout the Newton County School System can debrief and reflect on their efforts throughout the year.

 The staff at Veterans Memorial Middle School tried a new approach this year in hopes of finding creative ways to motivate and prepare students for the CRCT.

 Principal Eric Arena challenged his team to come up with creative review ideas, and they responded with three innovative 75-minute math review sessions.

 Arena, Media Specialist Leslie Coleman and various teachers laid out paper tablecloths on lunch tables for students to work on as they went over math concepts learned throughout the year.

 The students had the option of attending the workshops in lieu of their regular connection classes, and language arts teacher Jeff Puckett said they had plenty of takers.

 "The review sessions were fantastic," Puckett said. For the three-day math review, we had anywhere from 150 to 225 students each day.

 The sessions were completely voluntary so we were pleased with that number."

 Third, fifth and eight graders face pressure every year to pass the CRCT. And while adults are accustomed to monthly bills, car notes and work deadlines, children operate differently.

"Our administrators and teachers have always tried to balance the importance of doing well on the CRCT with encouragement and simply a desire for our students to do their best on test day," Puckett said. "We know that if they simply convey what they have learned in the classroom, their scores on any tests will take care of themselves."

Students who fail the CRCT are given an opportunity to retake the test in the summer.

 But should a student fail the second attempt, they are required to retake the corresponding year of instruction.

 Conversely, teachers and administrators are under the microscope as more and more schools struggle to comply with the state-mandated requirements imposed as a result of the Federal No Child Left Behind policy.

 "I personally do not feel a great deal of pressure with CRCT testing," Puckett said. "Teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty for their students each day have no problem with accountability. Luckily, that's what our teachers do here."

 While test results will not be available until this summer, Puckett is confident the workshop will help.

 "Of course, we're all a bit nervous about the scores each year," said Puckett. "But the vast majority of our students have always come through and accurately exhibited and demonstrated what they learned throughout the year.

 "All of the students I spoke with were very grateful for the review sessions."