Competency Tests: Many schools score below state average

COVINGTON - School-level scores from the state's 2009 CRCT released Tuesday show many schools in Newton County scoring below state averages in several subject areas.

Some schools achieved high pass rates in several subjects, but a majority of the pass averages on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests from schools in the Newton County School System were below state averages.

In June, the state released system-level results that show the average percentage of first- through eighth-grade students in NCSS who met or exceeded standards, or passed the tests, were below state pass averages in all 34 areas that the Georgia Department of Education reported for the year.

"While I'd like to see more schools meet or exceed the state's average, I am pleased to see the number of schools that have posted increases this year across the subjects and grade levels tested," said Dr. Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at NCSS, in a press release Thursday afternoon. "We will use the data from these tests to help us focus on improving our instruction across the curriculum. I thank our students and teachers for their hard work. We will continue to strive to reach our ultimate goal - 100 percent of our students meeting or exceeding standards in all test categories."

Although all students in grades one through eight must take the tests, third, fifth and eighth grades are considered critical areas - students in these grades must pass the reading section, and fifth- and eighth-grade students also must pass math to be promoted to the next grade level.

In both third and fifth grades, East Newton and Mansfield elementary schools were the only two schools in NCSS to score above state standards in all five testing areas of reading, English, math, science and social studies. No middle schools had averages higher than the state's in all five areas, but Indian Creek Middle School had averages at or above the state level in four out of the five areas.

Testing areas showed pass averages ranging from the low 40s to the high 90s.

Students in critical areas who do not pass the required sections of the test had an opportunity to retake the failed test over the summer, which will be used in final CRCT data released later in the year.

CRCT data, as well as other factors such as attendance, determine a school's Adequate Yearly Progress, as required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Schools and school systems in Georgia that don't meet AYP may be placed on the state's Needs Improvement list, depending on their past performance.

AYP reports generally are released in late summer.

More information about the Georgia CRCT, including state results and results from other systems across the state, is available by visiting www.gadoe.org.

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