Students outsmart state

High schools met or surpassed averages in most categories

WINDER - Averaged between Barrow's two high schools, county results on the statewide graduation test equaled or surpassed state averages in nearly every category.

On average, students at Winder-Barrow High School raised their scores on the

graduation test by 5.5 points with an 11-point increase in the percentage of students passing the science portion of the test.

At Apalachee High School, scores in the four main sections of the test - English/language arts, math, social studies and science - increased 2.25 points on average. But the percentage of students who passed the tests with exceptional results,

known as Pass Plus, decreased in every category.

Claire Michael, the district's executive curriculum director, said both schools had worked hard to raise their scores on the test.

"We're thrilled," she said. "We're just ecstatic. Both schools have been working really hard."

The system trumped the state average in English scores by two percentage points, with a 98 percent passage rate, and math by four points, with 96 percent of students passing. In social studies, 88 percent of students in the district passed the test, compared to 85 in the state. The countywide scores for science were 78 percent, while the passage rate was 72 percent statewide.

However, the percentage of students who received a Pass Plus designation was below the state average in both science and social studies.

Michael said an administration retreat scheduled this

summer will gave the district an opportunity to analyze the test numbers and work to resolve the disparity between the schools. About 520 high school juniors took the test, which students are required to pass to graduate. Those who do not pass all

four sections the first time have other opportunities to retake it before the end of their senior year.

The only average that remained unchanged from 2005 to 2006 was the Apalachee High School social studies score, which stayed at 85 percent passing.

Michael said students start learning information to pass the test in elementary school.

The district's goal, she said, is to outperform the state average and as a system they are on their way.

"There's a lot of excitement in the air," she said.