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Rigorous test caused score dip
County still outperforming state in many areas of CRCT

LAWRENCEVILLE - Increased rigor in a state standardized test caused a dip in Gwinnett County students' scores in some areas, especially mathematics, a school district official said Tuesday.

The school system, however, continues to outperform the state in many areas of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, said Linda Mitchell, Gwinnett County Public Schools' executive director of student accountability, assessment and advisement.

"What you had is a lot of students who were very, very close to the cut score but didn't quite make it," Mitchell said.

First- through eighth-graders took the state-mandated CRCT in April. The test measures what students know in the content areas of reading, English/language arts and mathematics. Students in third- through eighth-grades are also tested in science and social studies.

Scores fall into three performance levels: does not meet the standard, meets the standard and exceeds the standard. The state Department of Education requires third-, fifth- and eighth-graders to meet the standard in reading to be promoted to the next grade level; fifth- and eighth-graders must also pass the math test.

Although the percentage of students who passed the reading test increased at nearly every grade level, the percentage of students passing the math test dropped in grades three, four, five and eight. The biggest drops were on the fifth- and eighth-grade math tests - the percentage of students passing in those areas fell by about 12 percentage points.

"It's expected any time you get a new test, students don't score as well as previous years," Mitchell said.

Summer school will be offered to students who did not pass a test required for promotion, Mitchell said. The free session for elementary and middle schoolers begins Thursday.

The state allows students one opportunity to retake portions of the CRCT they failed. About 100 Gwinnett students have already retaken the test, but the school system will offer another testing window toward the end of the summer session.

Students do not have to attend summer school to retake the CRCT, but the classes are recommended because the pupils will be provided with targeted instruction based on the areas in which they did not perform well, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she expects students' scores to rise as teachers continue to learn the new curriculum the state is rolling out.

SideBar: CRCT Results

The following charts show the percentage of Gwinnett County Public Schools students who passed each subject of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, compared to the percentage that passed last year.

Reading

Grade

% passing in 2008

% passing in 2007

1

91.1

91.3

2

92.9

92.8

3*

90.6

88.4

4

91.6

89.4

5*

90.1

89.7

6

93.8

92.9

7

91.9

90.2

8*

92.6

91.9

English/Language Arts

Grade

% passing in 2008

% passing in 2007

1

86.3

84.2

2

87.5

88.3

3

90.1

89.3

4

91.4

89.5

5

92.7

90.6

6

91.1

90.9

7

93.9

92.6

8

92.2

92

Math

Grade

% passing in 2008

% passing in 2007

1

88.4

85.7

2

90

87.2

3

80.6

93.8

4

81.5

87.8

5*

80.1

92.7

6

80.4

77

7

90.5

84.4

8*

77.2

89.3

Science

Grade

% passing in 2008

% passing in 2007

3

80.2

78

4

84.9

81.4

5

77.3

75.8

6

76.8

69.6

7

87.4

84.4

8

70.7

82.1

Social Studies

Grade

% passing in 2008

% passing in 2007

3

92

91.9

4

94.5

93.3

5

93

92.5

6

n/a**

90.2

7 n/a**

94.9

8

68.9

90

* Test is required for promotion to the next grade level.

** Scores were invalidated by the Georgia Department of Education.

Source: Gwinnett County Public Schools