Newton students increase scores on writing test
System grades lower than state

COVINGTON - According to the 2007-08 Georgia Eighth Grade Writing Assessment results recently released by the Newton County School System, averages at each of the county's four middle schools increased in the percentage of students who passed the test, but as a system, fell short of the state and regional averages.

The system's percent of students meeting or exceeding standards - or passing the test - was 76 percent, while the state's was 77 percent and the region's was 81 percent.

On the test, which students took in January, they were assessed in four categories: ideas, organization, style and convention. They wrote on an either expository or persuasive topic.

Each of the county's four middle schools increased its pass percentage from last school year's test and most scored at or above the state average.

On this year's test, Clements Middle School had an 80 percent pass rate, while for the 2006-07 school year, it had a 65 percent pass rate. Indian Creek Middle increased from 61 to 78 percent pass rate, while Veterans Memorial Middle went from 75 percent to 77 percent and Cousins Middle increased from 61 to 72 percent.

"I'm very proud of the outstanding increase in scores. The students and teachers should be very proud of themselves," said Adria Griffin, middle school curriculum director at NCSS. "This just proves that most students can and want to do their best. I look forward to seeing outstanding scores on the CRCT this spring, too."

She said this is the second year for the new Georgia Performance Standards curriculum to be implemented for the test and in the classroom, so teachers were able to prepare the students for the test better than last year.

Clements Principal Sylvia Jordan credits teachers and parents with the school increasing its pass percentage by 15 points.

"The support of the community has been magnificent. This year, we have fully implemented the standards-based classroom, and our teachers have taken full responsibility for teaching the new Georgia curriculum," she said. "We at Clements are very thrilled and energized about our eighth-grade test scores."

Indian Creek Middle School had the largest percentage increase in the county, and school Principal Samantha Fuhrey thinks it will be higher next school year.

"We expect our scores to continue to increase as we continue our writing across the curriculum initiative," she said. "We are very proud of the hard work our teachers and students have done."

Griffin said students who fail the test don't have to make it up, but they will receive in-school remediation to improve their writing skills.

"We'll keep working with the teachers to ensure their comfort with teaching the new standards," Griffin said, focusing on next year's group of student test takers. "The individual schools will offer more practice writing tests throughout the next school year to make sure the students fully understand what's expected of them."

The eighth-grade students who took the test this year will next be tested on their writing at the state level as juniors with the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Assessment, which they must pass to graduate from a Georgia high school.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

2007-08 Eighth Grade Writing Assessment Scores

(School: percent of students meeting or exceeding target, 06-07 percent)

· Clements: 80, 65

· Cousins: 72, 61

· Indian Creek: 78, 61

· Veterans: 77, 75

· Newton County Schools: 76, 66

· Region: 81, 69

· State: 77, 67

Source: Newton County School System