Pupils in Richmond and Columbia counties made improvements in the majority of content areas on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests this year compared with 2011, according to district-level results released by the state Thursday. Richmond County showed more year-over-year gains than its neighbor, but Columbia County pupils continue to outperform their Richmond County counterparts in every grade and subject overall.
The CRCT tests pupils in grades three through eight in reading, English/language arts, math, science and social studies and determines how well students grasp required skills.
Richmond County pupils improved in every area except third-grade science and social studies; fifth-grade math; sixth-grade English/language arts, science and social studies; and eighth-grade reading.
“CRCT has been progressively moving in the right direction slowly but positively,” said Carol Rountree, Richmond County’s director of student services.
One of the most significant gains came in seventh-grade reading, where the number of pupils meeting or exceeding the standards increased 6.5 percentage points, to 89.4, in 2012. Eighth-grade social studies pupils meeting or exceeding standards increased 8.5 percentage points, to 60 percent.
The highest performance came in eighth-grade reading, where 91.9 percent of pupils met or exceeded standards.
Rountree said much of the improvement has come from remediations in every grade, Saturday school programs and 15-day assessments that help teachers monitor student progress.
“We view that as a positive response to what is in place already,” Rountree said.
The results released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Education are district level and do not
include summer retakes. School-level results are expected by July 12.
Columbia County pupils showed improvements in all areas except third- and fourth-grade math; science and social studies, fifth-grade math and science; and sixth-grade science.
No grade had less than 83.4 percent of pupils meet or exceed standards in any subject, and the highest performance came in eighth-grade reading, where 98.7 percent of pupils met or exceeded standards.
Columbia County Superintendent Charles Nagle said its difficult to compare year-over-year scores for the same grade because it compares a different group of students.
Pupils who produced the third-grade scores from last year are now in fourth grade, so comparing third grade year-over-year scores will result in some natural fluctuation, he said.
Deborah Franklin, the county’s assistant superintendent of student learning, said that the performance is encouraging but that teachers are consistently working to increase math scores. Administrators are focusing on teacher training and curriculum strategy to make sure achievement improves.
“We’re never going to be content unless we’re at 100 percent,” Franklin said. “We’re going to make sure we’re increasing our scores and student performance as much as possible.”
The standardized test is used as an accountability measure for schools and a way to determine student mastery in content areas. The importance placed on the CRCT is changing, however, as Georgia moves to a new statewide accountability system.
This year’s CRCT scores will not be used to determine a school’s Adequate Yearly Progress as was done in the past.
Under No Child Left Behind legislation, schools could be labeled failing if a certain number of students did not meet standards for one subject on the CRCT. As Georgia moves into the new Career Ready Performance Index system, however, the success of schools will not be determined just on test scores but also on indicators such as reading levels and career awareness.