West Clayton locked in on CRCT success

By Greg Gelpi

The results of upcoming state testing are already known at West Clayton Elementary.

More than 200 West Clayton students have chosen to spend their Friday afternoons in academic lock ins, preparing for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

The standardized tests are important to both the students and the schools. The results will indicate whether a school has made Adequate Yearly Progress according to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The standardized tests are also slowly being phased in to have more impact on the students. For the first time, third graders who do not pass the reading portion could be held back from advancing to the fourth grade.

Students at West Clayton aren't worried, though. The school's slogan has been "70 percent or more is what we're shooting for," but some students are shooting beyond that mark because of the CRCT lock ins.

"I think I'll get 80 percent or better because I come here every week," Stefon Kemp, 11, said. "It just teaches you the stuff that is going to be on the CRCT."

Kemp said the "fully energized teachers" are making him "fully prepared."

LaTricia Bennett, the coordinator of the lock ins, said the success of the program has been the enthusiasm of the teachers. The students can tell the teachers are interested in them doing well on the tests and respond accordingly.

"Naturally, if the teachers are excited, then the kids will be," Bennett said. "A lot of it is them being really committed to the students."

Brandi Johnson, 9, is predicting a perfect score when she takes the CRCT.

"I think I'll get 100 percent because I know my lock in teachers will help me," Johnson said. "I can learn new things everyday. When I don't learn things in my regular classes, my lock in teachers will teach me."

Although the series of CRCT lock ins allows students to collect "incentive tickets" and compete for prizes, she said she goes to the locks ins to brush up on her math skills.

Teachers award students with incentive tickets when they do well during the sessions or demonstrate good behavior, Bennett said. On Thursday, the day of the final lock in, students will cash in their incentive tickets for prizes.

Theresa Taylor, 12, said she enjoys the activities at the lock ins, especially the grammar games, mad minute math games and reading worksheets.

"I like to learn," Taylor, who won the lock in competition last year, said.

Aaron Moore, 8, said the games and activities help him learn the skills he is going to need for the standardized tests.

Moore said the lock in has helped him learn skills he didn't have before the lock in.

The final West Clayton CRCT lock in will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

CRCT testing for first through eighth graders will take place from April 14 to April 21. The CRCT tests students' knowledge of reading, language arts and math.