Overall scores drop; science shows progress

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Most schools in Richmond and Columbia counties slipped on the state's high school exit exams, a series of high-stakes tests students must pass in order to graduate.

The only category in which both school systems showed improvement from the previous year was science.

Overall, Columbia County high school juniors outperformed their peers statewide on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests, while Richmond County did not.

THE TEST

All students pursuing a Georgia high school diploma must pass Georgia High School Graduation Tests in four content areas -- English/language arts, mathematics, social studies and science.

Students also must meet requirements in the Georgia High School Writing Assessment. These assessments ensure that graduates have mastered essential core academic content and skills.

The test is first given during the junior year, and students who fail can retake it until they pass.

Since 2004, English/language arts and math scores have been used to measure adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

The English/language arts and science tests are fully aligned to the state's new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards, for the first time this year.

These exams, which call for higher order thinking, test more rigorous material.

Because of the change, the Georgia Department of Education cautions against comparing last year to this year.

The social studies and mathematics graduation tests will be based on Georgia Performance Standards beginning in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

THE RESULTS ARE IN

Georgia High School Graduation Tests results

Scores can't be compared county to county or year to year. Richmond County released scores for all general education students, and Columbia County's scores reflect all of its students. Also, the Georgia Department of Education cautioned not to compare scores from one year to the next for tests administered under the state's new curriculum.


REACTIONS

The Columbia County test scores generally were lower than last year's. But Deborah Franklin, the school system's assistant superintendent of student learning, said it was difficult to compare the two.

"With the English language arts and the science, they are (scored under) the new GPS," she said.

She said the school system will continue to monitor "what teachers are doing" to ensure that students can meet the standards. She also said the school system would like to increase the percentage of students achieving advanced or honors proficiency.

Messages left for Richmond County school officials weren't immediately returned.

-- Betsy Gilliland and Greg Gelpi, staff writers

Comments (8) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 05/13/08 - 02:06 am
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Does anyone dare ask: what

Does anyone dare ask: what percentages of RCSS and CCSS students who just passed the GHSGT would pass the much-maligned GED? Educrats in these systems wouldn't like you to know. Of course, many parents and other stakeholders in Georgia's public schools wouldn't like to know anyway. They're too busy watching "American Idol" and keeping up with those rapidly-refinancing Jones. But, for those who're interested, the pass-rate of GHSGT-successful-completers on the GED should be around 70%, if not lower.

theeobserver
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theeobserver 05/13/08 - 05:09 am
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If Science scores went up

If Science scores went up across the board then the science test must have been easier than last year, or the number of items/percentage needed to "pass" must have decreased.

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 05/13/08 - 06:09 am
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At this rate, very few

At this rate, very few students should be graduating this year then, but if they passed by default cause you can't get the kids to pass a simple test, then you fail them in life even if they graduate! No wonder I homeschool my kids AFTER they get home from school!

lezniack01
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lezniack01 05/13/08 - 06:43 am
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OH, thats a big surprise.

OH, thats a big surprise.

wertie
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wertie 05/13/08 - 08:55 am
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Congratulations to all the

Congratulations to all the students who passed the graduation tests throughout the state. Let me try to put this great accomplishment into perspective for some of my fellow "posters". This is about students gaining access into the world of postsecondary options. Whether it is college, technical school, or the world of work, each of the students who passed their assessment have access to more opportunities. The cyncism and belittling comments have no place when it comes to encouraging our youth. Thank you to the teachers, schools, administrators who work daily to make it happend for kids. Lastly, GO SCIENCE TEACHERS!!!! Its been a long time coming and I know that you worked (and have been working) hard to help your students. The science test has been a challenge..trust me I KNOW!!! Way to GO Class of 2009!

aaa
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aaa 05/13/08 - 09:33 am
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I clicked on the Results URL

I clicked on the Results URL above. They caution you not to compare results across counties or from year to year. How can you reach any conclusion if you can't compare? It certainly looks like the two magnet schools from Richmond and all of the Columbia county schools performed well. I'm not sure I really understand this - how do these tests compare with the SAT and ACT or the interval testing for 3rd graders, etc.???

Venus
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Venus 05/13/08 - 01:08 pm
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If you look at RC Science

If you look at RC Science scores they increased their scores with high numbers. Laney has the biggest gain with Westside and Josey close behind in raising their scores. Hat off to all the Science Teachers and Ms. Mabry for all their hard work! The hard work of all the Science teachers and Ms. Mabry paid off. Not to miss the most important part of the equation the STUDENTS, they hung in there and it shows they put all their efforts into raising the science scores. CONGRATULATIONS!

The best part of this story is with the right teachers our children can and will learn! I guess it's safe to say we have the BEST Science teachers is the state with gains like this!

kathypearson
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kathypearson 05/13/08 - 08:24 pm
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I'm one of those Richmond

I'm one of those Richmond County science teachers and yes, we work hard every day every year. Our county science coordinator, Stacey Mabry is very supportive of our efforts. She constantly challenges us to improve.

I'm proud to say that I teach at Richmond Academy where we have a great department chair and excellent science teachers. Our teachers put a lot of time and effort into helping our students learn. But we can't take all of the credit; our students worked hard to prepare for the tests. The best time of all is when a student who does well comes in and says "Thank you."
I wish I could take credit for that, but I know that credit goes to the biology, physical science, and chemistry teachers who laid the foundation.

We also need to thank the middle school science teachers who do their best to get children ready for high school.

Those who think the test was easier this year ought to give it try. Let's see what you remember. After all the GHSGT in science covers biology and physical science--subjects our students study in the 9th and 10th grades; but take the test in their junior year.

Congratulations to our students and teachers-working together we can do it.

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