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Hundreds sent to summer school

COVINGTON - Approximately 625 students in the Newton County School System are in summer school this month after failing at least one portion of the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

The state Department of Education requires third-grade students to pass the reading portion of the CRCT and fifth- and eighth-graders to pass both the reading and math portions to be promoted to the next grade level. The test also is used to determine a school's adequate yearly progress.

Students who do not pass the required section must retake the test, which is offered this summer in their school system.

"Students are strongly encouraged to retake the test. If a child doesn't take the test, the child is officially retained," Ken Proctor, director of elementary school curriculum for NCSS, said in an e-mail.

According to NCSS officials, 17 percent of third-grade students tested in reading did not meet standards, scoring below 800; 18 percent of fifth-graders did not meet standards in reading and 37 percent in math; and 10 percent of eighth-grade students did not meet standards in reading and 40 percent in math.

The school system was unable to provide actual numbers or the total number of students tested as of press time Tuesday.

NCSS is offering a four-week summer remediation program, which started Monday and will be held for three hours, four days per week until June 23, for students who did not pass one or more portions of the test that was originally given in April.

"Teachers are reinforcing skills in reading and math that are part of the Georgia Performance Standards," Proctor said about the summer program.

The school system also encouraged parents to get the children additional assistance, such as tutoring, Adria Griffin, director of middle school curriculum for NCSS, said in an e-mail.

NCSS hired 33 teachers - all of whom taught in NCSS this past school year and many of whom have several years experience - on the elementary school level for summer school, Proctor said. The school system was unable to provide how many teachers were hired for summer middle school classes as of press time Tuesday.

According to a press release from the Georgia DOE, the state will provide money for school systems to offset the increased summer school costs, but it doesn't specify an amount.

At the end of the summer program, students will retake the failed portions of the test June 24 and/or 25, with June 26 being a make-up retesting day. The same structure test, rules and restrictions apply as the original test, and parents will not have to pay for the retest.

The school system is expecting to receive the results of the retests by mid-July. Proctor said students who do not pass the retest can make an appeal at the school they plan to attend during the 2007-08 school year.

"There is an appeal process in place that allows parents, teachers or school administrators to appeal the retention to a school-level committee made up of the child's teacher, the parent and the school principal," Proctor said. "During the committee meeting, if all parties are in agreement, the child can be placed in the subsequent grade level if other data (grades, daily classroom performance, etc.) indicate that the child will be successful."

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