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Most Newton CRCTs below state averages

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

COVINGTON -- The average pass percentages for students in the Newton County School System on the spring CRCT were below state figures in all but one area.

System-level results on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests that the Georgia Department of Education released Wednesday showed that only third-grade Newton County students on average scored above the state level on the reading portion of the test. All other students on average in grades three through eight scored below state averages in reading, English language arts, math, science and social studies.

Nearly 92 percent of Newton County third-graders met or exceeded state standards on the reading portion of the test; the state pass rate was nearly 91 percent.

Although students in grades one through eight may be tested in reading, math, science, social studies and English/language arts, state law requires students in third, fifth and eighth grade meet or exceed standards on the CRCT in reading in order to be promoted. Fifth- and eighth-grade students must also meet or exceed expectations on the CRCT in mathematics.

Nearly 87 percent of Newton County fifth-graders passed the reading portion of the test, compared to the nearly 91 percent of fifth-graders in the state. Nearly 96 percent of Newton County eighth-graders passed the reading portion, compared to exactly 96 percent at the state level.

Just over 82 percent of local fifth-graders passed math, compared to nearly 87 percent at the state; and nearly 75 percent of eighth-graders passed math, compared to nearly 78 percent at the state level.

Pass levels on the social studies portion of the test were low this year. Nearly 60 percent Newton County fifth-graders passed the social studies test, compared to just over 71 percent of students across the state, and just over 59 percent of sixth-graders, about 66 percent of seventh-graders and about 64 percent of eighth-graders passed the subject.

The average pass percentages for students in Rockdale County Public Schools on the spring CRCT were above state figures at all levels.

This year, the state did not fund first- and second-grade CRCTs across the state, but some systems gave students mock exams.

Students have the opportunity to retest over the summer and may be promoted to the next grade level after not passing required portions of the CRCT if school-level administration and teachers agree to it in some instances. Final results of the CRCT will be released later this year after retest results are in.

The test also counts towards a school's and school system's Adequate Yearly Progress, which determines if it is on the state's Needs Improvement list under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"As for as federal AYP and No-Child-Left-Behind are concerned, accountability has been a good thing when it comes to making sure that all groups of learners are monitored for success. However, one hundred percent of students passing state assessments by 2014 is hardly realistic," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

"Additionally, I worry as an educator that these multiple choice assessments have been too limiting when it comes to focusing on a truly educated human being--one who can communicate effectively through oral and written communication inclusive of appropriate research abilities, exhibit deep thinking through project completion, work as a team member and utilize technology effectively for the production and consumption of knowledge in the 21st century," Mathews said. "Moreover, we need to produce students who not only read at a basic level, but who also think and care about what they read."

School-level results should be available no later than July 6, according to the GaDOE. Schools already have received individual student reports and may have calculated some preliminary numbers, GaDOE officials said. Preliminary AYP results are usually released in July.

More information about the CRCT and AYP is available on the GaDOE Web site, www.gadoe.org.