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Students make gains on tests

LAWRENCEVILLE - Results on Gwinnett's in-house promotional exam improved in all but one category this year.

Passing scores on the Gateway test are required of more than 19,000 fourth- and seventh-graders before they can continue on to the next grade.

Fourth-graders had the best passing rate, with 98.2 percent of students showing proficiency on their language arts exam. That number is up slightly from last year's results.

But fourth-graders dipped below last year's math score, with 91.8 percent passing the test, compared with 93 percent last year.

Among seventh-graders, 97.5 percent passed the language arts exam, up 1 percent from last year's test-takers. The math test had 86.9 percent of students pass, up from 85.8 percent a year ago.

Linda Mitchell, the executive director for student accountability, assessment and advisement, said the district was pleased it had improved its scores as more and more students enter the Gwinnett County Public Schools.

"Our teachers are doing just a really fantastic job getting our kids moving in up to speed," she said. "We're engaging more students we used to not require."

While more than 22,000 students took the test, 9,646 fourth-graders and 9,955 seventh-graders were required to pass the math and language arts exam this year. Some students with Individualized Education Plans and those who do not speak English as a first language take the test, but are not required to pass it. Their promotion hinges on recommendations from a student support team.

The test has both multiple-choice and open-ended questions, Mitchell said, and allows students to practice writing about what they have learned.

"We believe since its inception, the test has made a tremendous impact on what teachers are doing in the classroom," she said.

The test began in 2000.

Students who have no grade below a "C" in their classes but who fail one of the Gateway sections are subject to a review to see if they should be promoted anyway. Mitchell said factors such as a move or a death in the family can affect student performance on the exam.

This year, 194 students fell into that category. The system recommended that 79 of them go to summer school, which the district offers free of charge, in preparation for taking the test again. Mitchell said that number appeared slightly higher than normal.

An additional 84 students had the test waived, but were recommended for summer school, while 31 students who failed a portion of the test will be promoted and do not need to go to summer school.

The district's Academic Intervention Program, as it is known, will be held June 26 through July 17. Gateway retests are July 12 for language arts and July 16 for math, with a science and social studies test July 11.

The Gateway exam is an internal test used by the Gwinnett County Public Schools to determine promotion to the next grade level. More than 19,000 students took this year's test.