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Juniors excel at writing tests

LAWRENCEVILLE - The number of juniors in Gwinnett County who passed the writing portion of this year's Georgia High School Graduation Test increased two percentage points from last year.

Gwinnett County Public Schools officials said 95 percent of the district's 9,200 11th-graders passed the test on their first try. Gwinnett's average is four points higher than the state's 91 percent average and two points above metro Atlanta's passing rate of 93 percent.

"We are pleased with our students' continued achievement on the writing portion of the state graduation exam," GCPS Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said. "As the state has transitioned to the more rigorous Georgia Performance Standards, our students have continued to excel. Ten percent of Gwinnett

students scored in the 'exceeds' range, compared to 7 percent last year.

"In addition, all of our students (special education, English-language learners and all ethnic groups) showed gains in writing across the board. That is testimony to the fine teaching and learning occurring in our schools."

Georgia students must pass the writing assessment along with four subtests in core academic subjects to earn a high school diploma, according to a news release. The subtests in language arts, mathematics, social studies and science are administered to 11th-graders each spring.

"The writing test assesses a student's ability to write about a topic using skills identified in the state's Georgia Performance Standards," said Dale Robbins, associate superintendent for teaching and learning. "Clearly, the strong focus on literacy in our language arts program and our schools' emphasis on writing across the curriculum is helping our students. ... It is preparing them to succeed academically and in life as they will be better prepared for the writing that is expected in postsecondary and work place settings."

Students who did not achieve a passing score in the first administration of the state writing test will have several opportunities to retake the test before their class graduates.