The number of elementary and middle school pupils across the state exceeding standards on the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests increased this year, according to results released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Education.
Pupils showed improvement in 24 out of 30 content tested areas. The percentage of students exceeding standards dropped only in three categories. The percentage dropped by two points in fifth-grade reading, five points in fifth-grade math and three points in eighth-grade English/language arts. Scores remained the same as last year in fourth-grade math, sixth-grade English/language arts and eighth-grade math.
“The best news in the 2012 CRCT report is that more of our students are exceeding the standards,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a news release. “Teachers are doing a great job teaching the more rigorous Georgia Performance Standards, and they are to be applauded for raising expectations for all students.”
The results released Thursday do not include final scores for individual districts or schools. Those results will be released by mid-July.
However the Richmond County School System received preliminary results last week, which was shared with the Richmond County Board of Education Tuesday.
Carol Rountree, director of student services, cautioned that the preliminary results do not include scores from retests and makeups so the final results are expected to improve.
Looking at the preliminary data, the percentage of Richmond County students meeting or exceeding standards only decreased in eight-grade reading by 1.4 percentage points to 92.2 percent and in fifth-grade math by 4.5 points to 66.1 percent.
The CRCT is administered in reading, English/language arts, math, science and social studies to students in grades three through eight. Because of budget constraints, the CRCT was not administered to first and second-grade pupils in 2012.
The standardized test is used as an accountability measure for schools and to determine student mastery in content areas. However the importance placed on the CRCT is changing as Georgia moves to a new statewide accountability system.
Georgia is one of several states that received a waiver from No Child Left Behind standards this year and will transition into the College and Career Ready Performance Index system.
Under the new CCRPI, the success of schools will not be determined just on test scores, but also on indicators like reading levels and career awareness.
However, the CRCT is still used this year in indicating student mastery. Among the gains made by Georgia students, the greatest improvement was in fifth grade social studies, up by six percentage points, and in eighth grade science, up by seven percentage points.
A higher percentage of pupils in grades four through eight met or exceeded standards in social studies while more pupils in grades three, four, five, six and eight met or exceeded standards in English/language arts.
“While I am pleased to see an increase in the majority of the exams, I am concerned about those where we saw decreases or no change at all,” Barge said. “As we begin teaching the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards next school year, we know the curriculum and the tests will be more difficult, so we must continue to focus on successfully implementing the new standards. We have been offering, and will continue to offer, teachers the necessary professional development to ensure they are equipped to deliver these new, more rigorous standards and to prepare our students for the next step.”