Originally created 05/24/05

Many fail advancement tests



In the first year that Georgia's fifth-graders were required to pass math and reading tests for promotion, 21.6 percent of Richmond County pupils failed the math portion and 16.5 percent flopped on the reading test, school officials said.

Also, among third-graders, 14.5 percent of Richmond County pupils failed to pass the required reading test needed to move to the fourth grade, said Dr. Carol Rountree, the county's director of testing and guidance.

That means hundreds of pupils will have to attend summer school and retake the tests or be held back a year.

The director said third-grade statistics are almost identical to last year's figures. And this year's group of fifth-graders performed better than fifth-graders taking similar tests in past years.

"I am really pleased at the improvement that the fifth-graders have shown," she said. "This does represent a positive performance on their part."

Columbia County school officials were still sorting through their testing data and promised results today. Richmond County officials said they would have more specific numbers and a school-by-school breakdown by this morning.

New state laws designed to end social promotion are phasing in the required tests for different grades. Last year, the state began requiring third-graders to pass the reading portion of the Criterion-Reference Competency Test. This year, they added fifth-graders and forced them to pass both math and reading for promotion. Next year, eighth-graders must pass reading and math benchmarks before they move to high school.

But the same law provides an exception that allows a parent, teacher and principal to agree that the child's performance is strong enough for them to join classmates in the next grade. A unanimous decision is required.

"You still have the opportunity to address the promotion for students for who there was some extenuating circumstances through the (Student Support Team), where we meet with the parents, the administration and the teacher," Dr. Rountree said. "And they can recommend for promotion based on extenuating circumstances."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.