The ups and downs of Columbia County's latest test scores mirror those of state averages and reflect state testing and curriculum changes.
The county school system released a breakdown of its Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests that pupils needed to pass for promotion. The tests are third-grade reading, fifth-grade reading and math, and eighth-grade reading and math.
Columbia County's scores, like statewide results, slipped in third- and fifth-grade reading but improved in the other tests.
Lower scores shouldn't be cause for concern, said Lauren Williams, the county's associate superintendent of student learning, because of changes with this year's tests.
"Yes, I would be very concerned if we were comparing apples to apples, but it's two totally different curriculums, two totally different tests," she said. "You're really not going to be able to make that year-to-year comparison."
There is a lag between teachers' implementing the state's new curriculum in reading and language arts, and the test scores, Dr. Williams said.
Scores are likely to go back up over time, she said.
"There's no doubt that we're doing a good job with teaching reading," she said. "It's just every time you tweak the curriculum a little ... it makes it a little more difficult."
Dr. Williams also said that about half of the pupils not meeting standards are special-needs pupils, many of whom have particular problems with reading.
Many pupils who didn't meet standards are taking summer remediation classes so they can retake the tests.
Teachers are using much smaller class sizes, as few as five a class in elementary school, to focus on individual weaknesses in hopes of raising test scores during summer school, Dr. Williams said.
Though Columbia County's results consistently exceeded state averages, Richmond County's consistently fell below.
Richmond County released its results, by school, last week, showing improvements at all middle schools for eighth-grade math and reading, except C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School and John S. Davidson Fine Arts School, where all pupils met the standards.
Pupils struggled, however, in third- and fifth-grade reading, as did those in Columbia County, with more failing to meet standards this year than last.
Pupils must pass all required portions of the test or successfully appeal in order to be promoted to the next grade.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RESULTS OF CRITERION-REFERENCED COMPETENCY TESTS
Percentages of pupils not meeting standards on each section of the CRCT to qualify for promotion:
|School||3rd Grade||3rd Grade||5th grade||5th grade||5th grade||5th grade|
|School||8th grade||8th grade||8th grade||8th grade|
|reading 2005||reading 2006||math 2005||math 2006|
Sources: Georgia Department of Education, Columbia County Board of Education