Originally created 11/25/03

Columbia County does well on test



Columbia County third-, fifth- and eighth-graders continued to score above the national average on the Iowa Test of Basic Skill, a national standardized test.

The best performance was posted by third-graders, who scored 31 points higher than the national average.

"Third grade made the most progress, fifth grade made significant progress and eighth grade just pretty much stayed where they were," Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price said.

In third grade, the composite score for the county was in the 81st percentile.

"I don't recall us ever being that high," Mr. Price said. "Even the fifth grade is in the 71st percentile, and that's an improvement, since we've generally stayed in the 60th percentile."

The third-grade score on the fall administration of the test, which was given about five weeks ago, was eight points higher than third-graders tested last spring. The Iowa Test of Basic Skill tests pupils' knowledge of reading, language, math, social studies and science.

Compared to a national composite score of 50, Columbia County fifth-graders posted a composite score of 71, three points higher than last year, while eighth-graders posted a 63, one point less than the eighth-grade score on the spring test. State test averages were not available.

Both years the Stanford was administered - in 2001 and 2002 - scoring problems and delays made the results virtually useless. The state did not renew the contract with the Stanford's publisher, Harcourt, when it expired June 30.

Instead, the state returned to Riverside Publishing, which puts out the Iowa Tests, and signed a five-year contract, renewable yearly through 2007.

State law says the tests are to be given in third, fifth and eighth grades, but some school systems also give them in additional grades. National comparisons are only done in the state-mandated grades. For the first time last year, the state allowed school systems to give the tests in September instead of during the spring.

"We had a very successful fall administration," Mr. Price said.

Students currently take a battery of tests in the spring, including the Criterion Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT, a state exam that can determine promotion in certain grades.

For Columbia County's third-graders, schools with the highest scores on this year's ITBS were Stevens Creek Elementary (89); Riverside Elementary (88) and Blue Ridge Elementary (84). The greatest gains were at Grovetown Elementary and Euchee Creek, which both scored 17 points higher on this administration, and Bel Air, which improved its score by 11 points.

In fifth grade, schools with the highest scores were Stevens Creek Elementary (82); Blue Ridge Elementary (80) and Riverside Elementary (78). Schools showing the greatest gains included Greenbrier Elementary and North Columbia Elementary, which both improved their scores by eight points.

In eighth grade, schools with the highest scores were Riverside Middle (72), Lakeside Middle, Greenbrier Middle and Evans Middle, which all scored in the 64th percentile.

Richmond County results have yet to be made public but might be available today, state officials said.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113 or melissa.hall@augustachronicle.com.