2,113 pupils flunk CRCT 2nd time

At least 1,780 Richmond County students are at risk of not being promoted after failing the CRCT a second time.

Last year more than 1,500 failed the retest.

However, Richmond County pupils improved their overall performance on the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, even with most failing the retest, according to preliminary results released by the school system Tuesday.

In Columbia County 333 pupils, 85 fewer than last year, failed the retest. In all, 357 pupils out of 690 passed on their second try.

Though fewer Columbia County eighth-graders had to retake the math portion of the CRCT this year than last, a smaller percentage passed the retest. Just 287 eighth-graders took the math retest last month. Of those, 44 percent passed. The passing percentage in 2008 was 56 percent.

Nearly 440 Columbia County eighth-graders had to take the math retest in 2008.

"Clearly, we're moving in the right direction when it comes to math," Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway told school board members during a meeting Tuesday.

Eighth-grade math was a problem for many Georgia school systems last year because it was the first year the CRCT reflected the more rigorous curriculum of the Georgia Performance Standards.

Georgia students in first through eighth grades initially took the CRCT in the spring, but retests were offered this summer for students who failed to pass portions that are required to automatically advance to the next grade. Third-graders must pass reading, and fifth- and eighth-graders must pass reading and math.

Fewer than 22 percent of Richmond County eighth-graders who took the math retest passed, but the overall passing percentage improved from 50.8 percent in the spring to 60.9 percent after the retest was factored in.

In Columbia County, the percentage of pupils passing the CRCT after the summer retests were factored in varied little compared to last year. Fifth-grade reading slipped two percentage points to 96, but reading scores improved in third and eighth grade, and math scores improved in fifth and eighth grades.

The number of pupils in Richmond County who failed the retake increased despite efforts to improve remediation by offering it during the school year instead of summer school.

Richmond County officials would not comment on the retest results.

"At this time, we're not prepared to make a statement," Director of Public Information Louis Svehla said.

Though its pupils performed better than those in Richmond County, Columbia County also is considering offering CRCT remediation before school ends next year.

With many school systems squeezed by state budget restraints, offering CRCT remediation during the school year could save Columbia County about $200,000, Title 1 Director Lisa Soloff said.

There could be other benefits as well, she said.

"You'd have teachers at the school who know the children," Dr. Soloff said. "They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they may know what works better for getting that across to those children."

On the other hand, summer school remediation provides pupils with more targeted instruction, Dr. Soloff said.

The school board likely will consider the issue this year, she said.

Students who don't pass a required portion of the CRCT can file an appeal with the school.

Dr. Soloff said a committee of school administrators, teachers and the child's parents will examine the child's academic record during the school year and decide if he or she is worthy of promotion despite the CRCT score.

Richmond County parents who want to appeal their child's placement can do so at their school July 27-Aug. 6. Appeal meetings in Columbia County will be held July 20-24.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com. Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.