Newton student outperform state in third of CRCT areas; Results improve for fourth year

COVINGTON -- Students in the Newton County School System outperformed the state in 10 areas of state tests, but underperformed in 20 areas.

Results have increased for the last four years.

Pass averages for this year's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCT, show that Newton County students in third through eighth grades earned higher pass averages on a third of the possible areas, compared to overall averages from across the state in the same areas.

Students in grade three through eight are tested in reading, math, science, social studies and English/language arts. State law requires that students in third, fifth and eighth grades meet or exceed expectations on, or pass, the CRCT in reading in order to be promoted to the next grade level. Fifth and eighth grade students also must pass the math section of the CRCT.

In Newton County, 92.9 percent of third-graders passed reading, compared to the state's pass average of 92.1 percent. In fifth-grade, 92.6 percent passed reading, compared to the state's average of 92.9 percent. In eighth-grade, 97.3 percent passed reading, compared to 96.8 percent at the state level.

In math, 88 percent of fifth-graders passed, compared to the state's average of 89.5 percent, while 80.3 percent of eighth-graders passed, compared to the state's average of 83 percent.

Last month, NCSS reported that the results show positive increases.

"Overall, when this spring is compared to last spring ... our elementary and middle schools posted a 66.6 percent rate of improvement in the 'Meets Standards' category of the CRCT," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews. "Most impressively, NCSS elementary and middle schools demonstrated an 86.6 percent rate of improvement in the 'Exceeds' category of the CRCT. This marks the fourth consecutive year for the upward trajectory of state test scores in our county. This is of special importance when you consider that the state increased the rigor of this spring's CRCTs in light of the new Common Core State Standards. This too, I believe, is an important omen given that, once again, the overall rigor of state tests will increase with the new Common Core assessments to be implemented with the 2014-15 school year."

The results are preliminary until final results are released later this year, when summer retest results will be included. Students had 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.

Students in Georgia's elementary and middle schools improved performance on the majority of the CRCTs taken this year, according to state officials.

"Our results this year on the CRCT show consistent progress and we continue to see many students scoring in the exceeds category," State School Superintendent John Barge said. "This is a testament to the great work our teachers are doing to take students to higher levels of learning."

Georgia, along with all other states, will soon be required to significantly increase the rigor and cut scores, or the points on the scale distinguishing different performance levels, of all state assessments.

"We're pleased with the performance on the 2013 CRCTs, but we know that as new federal criteria for state tests come into play in 2014-15, the expectations to meet standards will significantly increase," said Barge. "The new cut scores will likely result in fewer students meeting and/or exceeding standards, but that is common when you change to a new and more rigorous test."

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