BOE votes to change sections of standardized test

SUWANEE - Some elementary and middle school students in Gwinnett County will encounter new promotion criteria - and fewer testing days - in the 2007-08 school year.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education on Thursday voted unanimously to use some multiple-choice and writing sections of a state test in place of Gwinnett's Gateway, which was developed to measure students' mastery of the county's Academic Knowledge and Skills curriculum.

The decision to use the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in language arts and mathematics comes as the state's new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards, replaces the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum.

"We are very pleased that the Georgia Performance Standards are at a higher level than the QCC," said Cindy Loe, the associate superintendent of teaching and learning.

Because the AKS has held students to a higher standard than state curriculum, the county has required students to take the Gateway exam as a promotional requirement.

"With the more rigorous Georgia Performance Standards, the expectations for students on the CRCT have risen to a level that is roughly equivalent to the multiple-choice sections of the Elementary and Middle School Gateway," the proposed Gateway revision plan states.

The multiple-choice sections of the CRCT in language arts and math will be used in lieu of Gateway exams in fourth and seventh grades.

Open-ended math questions will supplement the CRCT in math to ensure all students show a mastery of the AKS. Fifth- and eighth-grade students will take the state writing assessment to fulfill the open-ended testing requirement for language arts.

To meet promotion criteria, students must meet or exceed grade level performance on the CRCT and the writing assessment. Those who do not pass the CRCT will be given a chance to retake the test and attend summer school.

The CRCT in science and social studies in fourth and seventh grades are already used as the multiple-choice section of the Gateway.

In other business, the board voted to approve the core instructional materials for sixth- through 12th-grade social studies classes. Materials were also adopted for Advanced Placement Language and Composition, SAT Preparation and health for middle and high school.

New textbooks for the social studies classes were piloted during the 2006-07 school year. After a review of the materials, teachers helped choose the textbooks for all middle and high school social studies classes.

It will cost about $6.3 million to adopt the new materials. Textbooks will be used for about six years.