Erasure marks on state test answer sheets dropped significantly across Georgia, including in Richmond County public schools, in 2011, according to a report released this week.
In the Augusta metro area, only four schools – all in Richmond County – had enough classes with high numbers of erasures on Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests answer sheets to warrant any concern. That is down from 2010, when 13 Richmond County schools and one in Columbia County met that benchmark.
Carol Rountree, the Richmond County school system’s executive director of student services, said Friday that she and other district officials are “very much satisfied” with the report’s findings – especially with the sharp drop in the number of schools warranting concern since the state first started conducting erasure analyses in 2009.
“Because we are aware that this kind of analysis is being done, teachers are asking students to be a little more careful,” Rountree said. “There is nothing in any of the previous years that led us to believe that anything was going on that should not have occurred.”
An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2009 found that several Atlanta Public Schools had unusually high numbers of CRCT answers that were changed from wrong to right. The state has conducted erasure analyses across Georgia schools since then.
The report divides schools into four categories based on the number of classrooms flagged for having a number of erasures significantly higher than would normally be expected, ranging from “clear of concern” to “severe concern.”
For the second straight year, no Richmond County schools landed in the severe category. Hephzibah and Rollins elementary schools were of moderate concern. Rollins has been in the moderate category for the past two years, but Rountree said the district has not found evidence of testing irregularities there.
The only two Richmond County schools that ever made the severe category, Lamar and Hornsby elementary schools in 2009, were clear of concern in 2011.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the State Board of Education voted to place state monitors in schools that were in the severe category when the CRCT is administered. In Richmond County, pupils in third through eighth grades will start taking the state tests Thursday.
Rountree said state monitors might visit some Richmond County schools during testing, but none will be assigned to a class. The district will have its own monitors in place, however.
“We always ask central office certified personnel to spend time in the schools and help principals with monitoring,” she said. “We will send out a notice to all the principals and encourage them to continue to be very vigilant.”