You may not realize it, but most of the students in elementary and middle school in our church are entering the most dreaded week of the school year. It is time again for the CRCT. This test, the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, is one of the most high-stakestests that our children will face. Currently, students in grades 3, 5, and 8 must pass the test in order to be promoted to the next grade. That’s a lot of pressure for any kid. So, as you pray this week, don’t forget to pray for the students in our church who are feeling the tremendous pressure to perform well.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the kids who feel the pressure. Schools are also gauged by this test. If schools have too many students who do not perform well, then the schools are put on a “needs-improvement” list. Stay on that list too long and people begin to lose jobs. That’s why the Atlanta Public Schools were involved in the CRCT cheating scandal back in the summer of 2011. It was determined that 178 teachers and 38 principals from the Atlanta area had been found to be cheating from as early as 2001 by falsifying test results or allowing test answers to be changed.
Many people have many different opinions about standardized tests. Some think it is a fantastic way to evaluate schools and educators. Many have even attempted to base teacher pay on the performance of students on the CRCT. At the end of the day, however, true learning does not take place when students only learn how to bubble in A, B, C, or D. And preparing for a standardized test does not prepare students for life. The fact of the matter is that real life is not a multiple-choice test. Life is complicated and cannot always be easily solved with an #2 pencil and a good eraser.
I like to think that life is much more like a complex math problem. I may not be a calculus genius, but one thing I know, if you’re doing a lengthy equation and you miss the first step, you will ALWAYS come up with the wrong solution. So what is the first step in calculating the equation of life? Joshua said the first step is to choose whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15). If you get that part right, then you are well on your way to negotiating the most complicated equation in the world. If you get it wrong, you will never get to the right answer.
So, how are you doing in solving the first part of this equation? Are you serving Jesus? Or are you serving some other idol that you have created. The truth is that THIS choice is the highest stake test you will ever take. Choose correctly and your reward will be the Kingdom of God. Choose incorrectly, and your punishment will be hell.
As we begin a new series through the book of Joshua, we will find that it is a book with a lot of different themes, like courage, honesty, and leadership. The main idea however is all about a choice. It is about choosing to follow the Lord or choosing to ignore Him. Follow the Lord and we will find ourselves basking in the fulfillment of His promises. Ignore Him, and we will see just how costly that choice can be.
How Do You Choose?