K-8 data in the Newton County School System (NCSS) reveals highly effective teaching in these classrooms.
The Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) measures student achievement in early years in reading and other core areas. Students can exceed test criteria, meet test criteria or fail to meet criteria.
For fiscal year 2011 reading scores in grade 3, a critical year for literacy projections, the following is true. Having improved each of the last three fiscal years 96 percent of NCSS students met or exceeded criteria in reading. Nearly 40 percent exceeded criteria. The numbers are equally impressive in all core areas.
Broken down by subgroups in grade 3: 100 percent of Asian students met or exceeded criteria, 94 percent of black students, 95 percent of Hispanic students and 97 percent of white students. Ninety-five percent of males, 96 percent of females, 89 percent of students with disabilities and 94 percent of students with limited English proficiency (LEP) met or exceeded criteria. NCSS K - 2 teachers are exposing students to more complex texts and grade 3 - 8 teachers are getting results now. By eighth grade 98 percent of students meet or exceed reading criteria.
Yet when triangulating CRCT data with HOPE Scholarship eligibility and fiscal year 2012 SAT scores (2012 seniors) -- all tied to reading, analyzing and solving problems -- serious questions loom.
Fiscal year 2011 data show HOPE Scholarship eligibility for Alcovy High at 37.7 percent, Eastside High at 54.8 percent, Newton High at 41.4 percent, the county average at 43.6 percent and the state average at 40.2 percent.
Fiscal year 2012 SAT scores for Alcovy reflect a 10-point drop in critical reading and a 12-point decline in math from fiscal year 2011, down double digits for college aptitude. Alcovy scores of 445 in reading and 428 in math fell below county, state and national averages.
Eastside High increased 8 points to 489 in critical reading and 12 points to 470 in math. Eastside surpassed the county and state in reading falling 7 points shy of the national average and surpassed only the county in math. A double digit increase in math is dramatic given state changes in math curriculum.
Newton High increased 15 points in critical reading to 443 and 4 points to 430 in math from fiscal year 2011. A double digit increase in critical reading is a tough chore.
Fiscal year 2012 SAT state averages in critical reading were 488 and 489 in math. National averages were 496 and 514 respectively.
What strategic plan is in place to mitigate HOPE Scholarship eligibility and of what are double digit drops in SAT subtests symptomatic? Finally, with double-digit increases in SAT math at Eastside and in SAT critical reading at Newton what is going on in these buildings to generate such gains?
Artful dodging and dressing up of data must end. We must diagnose our weaknesses and strengths and align the right personnel in leadership to benefit the only players in this game we work for: students.
Jeff Meadors may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org