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GCPS pleased with test decision

SUWANEE - Leaders of Gwinnett County Public Schools are pleased with State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox's decision to invalidate the results of the CRCT's social studies subtest for sixth- and seventh-graders, a spokeswoman said.

Cox held a conference call earlier this week with school system leaders to tell them projections showed the scores would be low, said Sloan Roach, Gwinnett Schools spokeswoman. Several of the leaders, including Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, expressed concern about the projection, Roach said.

"We anticipate with a new test there will be a dip - but not the dip they were telling us about," Roach said.

Cox announced Wednesday the decision to invalidate the results of the social studies CRCT in sixth and seventh grades.

"Simply, the performance appears to be implausibly low, which raised serious questions," Cox wrote in an e-mail to superintendents. "After intense scrutiny of the standards and the assessment, we have come to the conclusion that these scores are not trustworthy measures of student achievement in social studies."

The social studies CRCT was based on the state's more rigorous curriculum, which is being rolled out in phases, said Dana Tofig, the state Department of Education spokesman.

Cox said the social studies curriculum for sixth- and seventh-graders will be revised, and a new assessment for those grades will be developed.

Carole Boyce, chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Education, said the district has always been in favor of increased standards, but there was concern the changes were happening too quickly. When new curriculum is introduced, teachers and students both need time to adjust, she said.

"We feel strongly our kids are proficient," she said. "It was just not showing up on the test."

Tests aren't the only way schools measure student achievement, either, she said. Classroom grades, as well as input from the teacher, also indicate how well a student is performing.

Schools are starting to receive CRCT results for individual students, and parents will be notified if a student hasn't met promotion requirements, Roach said.

Eighth-graders who did not meet standards on the math CRCT will be given the opportunity to retake the test, which will be offered before and after the summer school session, Roach said.

Because eighth-grade math was based on a new curriculum introduced this year, Roach said a dip in performance is expected in that area, as well. However, she said the district's collective results won't be available until June.