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Richmond County schools struggle with testing change

Students face change of graduation exams

Sunday, June 24, 2012 8:56 PM
Last updated Monday, June 25, 2012 2:02 AM
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For the first time, the Georgia High School Graduation Test was not used as an accountability measure for schools across the state in the 2011-12 school year, and the change came with growing pains locally, officials said.

Tracey McManus
Twitter: @aug_mcmanus
E-mail | 706-823-3424

Until last year, 11th-graders had to pass the GHSGT, which covers four content areas, to earn a diploma. The GHSGT was also used to measure a school’s Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But in April 2011, amid the state’s transition away from NCLB, the Georgia Department of Education voted to phase out the graduation test and rely on the End of Course Tests, an assessment in eight subjects taken by high school students.

Although students have taken both tests for more than a decade, many students and teachers put more emphasis on the graduation test because a student’s diploma depended on it, said Carol Rountree, the Richmond County School System’s director of student services. When students took the EOCT this spring, it was difficult getting them to understand the new emphasis on the EOCT.

“It’s taken a little while for that message to filter, that (the EOCT) is now a measurement that is going to be significant,” Rountree said.

However, it’s not that the EOCT did not count before, said Melissa Fincher, the associate superintendent for assessment and accountability of the Georgia Department of Education.

While students did not have to pass the EOCT to graduate, the scores in each of the eight EOCT tests traditionally counted for 15 percent of a student’s final course grade. That weight increased to 20 percent for students who entered high school for the first time last year.

Fincher said several school districts reported difficulty communicating the new significance of the EOCT to students.

“Getting students to take (the EOCT) more seriously may be a struggle for some schools,” Fincher said. “Some schools have been taking it seriously all along. ... It’s a more rigorous assessment than the GHSGT, so we certainly see that in the results, with fewer students making that passing grade. But we’re expecting that to improve.”

Rountree said preliminary EOCT results, which were presented to the Richmond County Board of Education June 12, were proof of the transition’s difficulty.

Although the results are unofficial, several subject areas have low passing rates, particularly in math.

Several Richmond County board members voiced concerns about the low scores and said they hoped to see drastic improvements when the final scores are calculated and released later this summer.

“I could teach better than this,” said board member Frank Dolan. “You’ve got other numbers that just jump off the page as being totally awful.”

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 06/25/12 - 05:59 am
Mr. Dolan,

You're right: Many, if not most, of the RCSS' EOCT scores are "totally awful."

The question remains: When are you and your colleagues on the RCBOE going to take action to ameliorate the disrespectful, disruptive, and detached classroom/school conditions which beget these "awful scores?"

We can't waste another generation of kids.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

saltine 06/25/12 - 08:45 am
What about all the

What about all the students,that failed the" crct" test in math,and are being keep back?

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 06/25/12 - 10:42 am
Am I missing something?

Okay, you give end of course tests. Some students make good scores on the tests and some students make bad scores on the tests. What's so shocking about that? That's the way testing should be. The test is not the problem. The test just reveals the student's mastery of the subject matter. Some students take it seriously; some don't.

One of the worst things a teacher can do is make a test so easy that the whole class passes. Since a classroom reflects in intellectual spectrum of society in general, you need to make sure that some students fail the tests; otherwise, your test is too easy and therefore meaningless.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 06/25/12 - 10:48 am
Who Defines “Low”??

From the article above:

Although the results are unofficial, several subject areas have low passing rates, particularly in math. Several Richmond County board members voiced concerns about the low scores and said they hoped to see drastic improvements when the final scores are calculated and released later this summer.

Who says a passing rate is “low”? It is what it is. If the test refects the skills and knowledge that the educrats think are important, then the pass rate just reflects the students’ capabilities on those aspects. There is no "low" passing rate or "high" passing rate. There should be no arbitrary goals on who passes and who fails — on who does well or who does poorly.

boodroe 06/25/12 - 11:57 am
Passing the Test

Students used to get 6 chances to pass the graduation test do they get 6 chances to pass this new test and how hard is it to pass a test if you are given the same test 6 times I am shocked some many in the past have graduated with B averages and failed the graduation test it shows grades are inflated to let kids use the Hope scholarship

lynn7044 06/25/12 - 01:20 pm

Let's get serious about whats really going on when the "CRCT" test was not done the right way the year before, how can you hold these high school staff accountable. When my son was in the 8th grade the test score same back so late that the 8th grade student didn't retake the test. It was given after school was out. Some kids retook the test where others didn't, so that's one reason you have very low scores. RCBOE need to reflect on the mistake that was made with those 8th graders who never should have came to high school. They didn't have the basic. When schools have tutoring for the kids to get it after school and parents won't let them stay. Parents have to be responsible as well. Teachers and schools can only do so much. Parents and the RCBOE colleages need to come visit our schools. If the school board going to send unprepared 8th graders to high school and want these school to make things happen then you need to put more money in the high school reduce class room size. When you have more kids in math support then in career classes then you have a problem.
I have never seen any RCBOE members at schools and parents voices there concern until things are going wrong.
I have but one question for the RCBOE. When are they going to start the parents and teachers board to have a voice of some of the rules that they vote on which is very disconnect from students and teachers.
(Parent who care about our kids)

g.davis17 06/25/12 - 04:13 pm
Why are we still making excuses for poor performance?

I'm not understanding this. Because there was a change in testing, we now want to use this as the reason for lower grades or test scores? Did the information for End of Course Tests (EOCT) change? Did the course material change? If the EOCT was previously taken, then the information should be of no surprise to the students. As a former Marine Instructor, every test or quiz I gave was presented as important even if it did not carry much weight. I felt that if I took the time to prepare and give the test, my students needed to take it as seriously as I did. One last thing here, getting the students to take this change seriously has nothing to do with the test but, everything to do with the class room / school environment. GOOD TEACHERS PRODUCE GOOD STUDENTS, GREAT TEACHERS PRODUCE GREAT STUDENTS AND POOR TEACHERS PRODUCE FAILING STUDENTS!!!

lynn7044 06/27/12 - 03:22 pm

There are alot of great teacher but if you have students coming to school hungry and the bus is late how can our teacher do there job. I have brought food to school for student who were hungry. Parents need to be parents. Teaching our students is like a chain if the morning don't start right then it makes it hard for our teacher to teach.

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