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Annual CRCT period under way
Haw Creek Elementary fifth-grader Matthew Altis plays the drums for his classmates during a CRCT pep rally at the school. - photo by Autumn McBride

Forsyth County elementary and middle school students are in the thick of the reading and language arts portions of their annual state exams this week.

But the weekend offers just a short break for the third- through eighth-graders taking the Criterion Referenced Competency Test.

On April 19, students will resume the CRCT with the math, science and social studies portions.

“All year long they work on the standards and the CRCT is just a celebration of what they’ve learned,” said Jennifer Vanderbunt, assistant principal at Haw Creek Elementary School. “It’s a chance for them to show what they know.”

Teachers have been preparing students for the exams, giving sample tests and following pacing charts and state standards to ensure all the information is covered.

The exam results give information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system and state levels. The local school system has typically scored among the highest in the state.

Perhaps more importantly, Associate Superintendent Lissa Pijanowski said, the information is "used to diagnose individual strengths and weaknesses as related to the instruction of the [state’s performance standards] and to gauge the quality of education throughout Georgia.”

Vanderbunt said while the testing is important, it’s also key to make sure students aren’t anxious about the test.

“It’s important students aren’t stressed, that they feel comfortable and know that they’re prepared and that they’re ready and we’re confident in them,” she said.

Students should get a good night’s sleep before each testing day and eat a healthy breakfast that morning.

Vanderbunt joked her third-grade daughter got a sausage biscuit as a special treat before testing began Wednesday.

While it’s a big deal for the school system, Vanderbunt said in her home, CRCT days are no different.

“I just told her how proud I am of her and to do your best as you always do,” she said. “I just gave her a kiss this morning and told her I love her just like any day.”