Scores fall below state averages

COVINGTON - According to results released by the Newton County School System on Thursday and the Georgia Department of Education on Monday regarding the spring 2008 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, the average percentage of first- through eighth-grade students in the Newton County School System to meet or exceed standards, or pass the test, were at or below state pass averages.

Ninety-one percent of eighth-grade students met or exceeded standards on the reading portion of the test, the only average in the county that tied with the state in an area and the section of the test with the highest pass average in the county. Fifty-two percent of eighth-grade students met or exceeded standards on the social studies portion of the test, which is the lowest passing average in the county.

Between 59 and 89 percent of other first- through eighth-grade students met or exceeded standards in reading, English, math, science and social studies on the test; more than 75 percent of NCSS students met or exceeded standards in 25 of 34 areas of the test.

The pass averages for elementary and middle school students on all sections of the test were between 1 and 11 percent below the state pass averages in the same sections.

"While test results indicate scores near the state's average performance levels, we realize that all students must meet standards on all subject areas tested," Shelia Thomas, director of testing for NCSS, said in a news release.

When students took the test in the spring, it was the end of the first year of the new Georgia Performance Standards curriculum being implemented in third- through fifth-grade math and science and eighth-grade math and science, and proved to be more "rigorous" tests, according to the NCSS news release.

This year also was the first year new curriculum standards were aligned with sixth- and seventh-grade social studies.

The state Department of Education invalidated test scores in sixth- and seventh-grade social studies after an unusually high number of students failed to pass that section of the test, which was determined to not reflect the lessons taught during the school year.

Certain students who did not pass the validated portions of the test - approximately 800 third- and fifth-grade students and about 600 middle school students, according to NCSS - must retake the test this week to have a chance to be promoted to the next grade level. The school system expects results from those tests in mid-July.

Thomas said the school system will aim for greater increases on next year's CRCT.

"We will continue to focus on improving our instruction in the new curriculum areas as we strive to reach our ultimate goal - 100 percent of our students meeting or exceeding standards in all test categories," she said.

More information about the Georgia CRCT, including system-level and school-level results, can be found at www.gadoe.org.

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

SideBar: By the numbers

Spring 2008 Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests Results

Percentage of Newton County School System students who met and exceeded standards on the test*:

Grade - Reading, English, Math, Science, Social Studies

· First - 88, 81, 82, -, -

· Second - 89, 76, 79, -, -

· Third - 84, 85, 64, 69, 86

· Fourth - 82, 82, 62, 66, 87

· Fifth - 82, 86, 63, 63, 85

· Sixth - 89, 84, 62, 59, invalid

· Seventh - 85, 87, 75, 70, invalid

· Eighth - 91, 88, 60, 59, 52

Percentage of Georgia students who met and exceeded standards on the test*:

Grade - Reading, English, Math, Science, Social Studies

· First - 90, 85, 86, -, -

· Second - 92, 87, 86, -, -

· Third - 88, 87, 71, 75, 89

· Fourth - 88, 86, 70, 74, 90

· Fifth - 87, 90, 72, 71, 89

· Sixth - 91, 87, 69, 66, invalid

· Seventh - 88, 90, 80, 75, invalid

· Eighth - 91, 89, 62, 60, 59

Source: Newton County School System and Georgia Department of Education

*Numbers may be rounded