Graduation writing test: Newton students outscore Georgia

COVINGTON - For the second straight year, Newton County 11th-grade students outpaced their statewide peers on the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test.

According to results released by the Georgia Department of Education last week, Newton County students scored higher on the fall writing test than state averages. Nearly 95 percent of 11th-grade students taking the 100-minute test for the first time passed, compared to the more than 91 percent of Georgia students on average who passed the test that was given in September.

In 2007, 92 percent of Newton County juniors passed the writing test, compared to 89 percent of 11th graders across the state.

"I am very proud of our students and staff who have worked diligently in the area of writing," said Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for curriculum, instruction and technology with the Newton County School System. "We will continue to strive for even more gains next year as we focus on the students who need assistance in the area of writing. I know that all students in our county can be good writers."

Individual school reports show that nearly 95 percent of those students at Alcovy High School passed the test, almost 97 percent of Eastside High School students passed and more than 93 percent of Newton High School students passed.

High school principals said these scores represent the combined efforts of students, staff and families, according to a NCSS press release.

"It clearly illustrates that our students, faculty and parents are focused on meeting high levels of student achievement," said Eastside High Principal Bob Daria in the release. "Meeting this mark is based on the collective efforts of all parties. I applaud all of them - as a group and individually."

Overall, the school system increased its pass rate by 3 percentage points compared to last year's average of 92 percent; every high school in Newton County increased its pass rate by two or three points.

"Our high schools are doing an excellent job teaching our students the importance of writing and the results are showing on the GHSWT," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox in a state press release. "Using our new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards, Georgia is growing a strong generation of writers and communicators. ... We are seeing high achievement and improvement across the board on the writing test."

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