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Fifth-grade writing test scores increase

COVINGTON -- More Newton County fifth-graders are passing state writing tests, unlike the county's eighth- and 11th-graders.

Overall, fifth-grade students improved three points from last year, eighth-grade students declined two points and 11th-graders declined one point. The 11th-grade writing test results were the only ones above state averages, according to results of 2011-12 writing tests recently provided by the Newton County School System.

"It is gratifying to see the gains in the fifth grade and the continued strong performance ahead of the state in the 11th grade," said Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews. "Naturally, we look to do better in the future, and the ability to write well will prove important as we head towards next year's implementation of the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards."

In fifth grade, 78 percent of Newton County students met or exceeded state standards, or passed the writing test, compared to 75 percent in 2011 and 69 percent in 2010.

Eighty-one percent of students statewide passed the test this year, compared to 79 percent last year and 73 in 2010.

Mathews noted that Heard-Mixon Elementary School had 7 percent more of its students pass this year, Middle Ridge had 17 percent more pass and both the Newton County Theme School and West Newton Elementary School had 14 percent more pass.

Also, "the newly reconstituted Fairview Elementary School deserves notice," Mathews said. "At 86 percent of fifth-graders passing the state writing test, (Fairview) enjoyed the second highest writing results at the elementary level."

In eighth grade, 79 percent of Newton County students passed the test, compared to 81 percent last year and 78 percent in 2010.

Statewide, 82 percent of students passed this year, compared to the same percentage last year and 79 percent in 2010.

Mathews noted that Challenge Charter Academy's scores increased from 61 to 71 percent this year.

In 11th grade, 94 percent of students passed in Newton County this year, compared to 95 percent last year and 90 in 2010, according to preliminary results.

Across the state, 93 percent of juniors passed the test, down from 95 percent in 2011 and 91 in 2010.

Mathews said results are expected to improve once retake results are entered later this year, when the results are final.

Fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade students had between 100 and 120 minutes to write their essays, which assess students' responses to an assigned writing prompt.