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Study compares grades and EOCT results

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Governor's Office of Student Achievement on Tuesday released the results of a study that analyzed the alignment of Georgia school systems' grading practices with their End of Course Test (EOCT) results.

Georgia College and State University economics professor Christopher Clark examined the relationship between Georgia students' 2007 EOCT performance levels and the grades they earned in related courses, a news release states.

"This relationship is important because Dr. Clark's findings suggest that the differences between the two may impact students' college success, HOPE Scholarship retention rates and need for remedial support in college," GOSA Executive Director Kathleen Mathers said.

"Both EOCTs and course grades are based on the same state standards, so we should expect general alignment between the two," Mathers continued. "As a general rule, if students earn an A in a course, it should be reasonable to expect them to also perform well on the corresponding EOCT."

To arrive at a numerical value to represent each school system's grading practices across subject areas, GOSA compared students who earned high course grades and high EOCT scores against students who only earned high course grades, the agency's January e-Bulletin states. GOSA divided the total number of students who earned an A, B or C in each course and who exceeded standards on the EOCT by the total number of students who earned an A or B in the course to determine a school system's grade alignment score.

Gwinnett County Public Schools' grade alignment score of 56.17 percent tied for 32nd in the list of 158 school systems that had 100 or more test takers on at least one EOCT. The district tied for 22nd in the list of 95 school systems that had at least 100 test takers on all eight EOCTs.

Gwinnett was also consistently ranked among the top 20 systems statewide in terms of the percentage of its C students who exceeded standards on each EOCT.

"The study indicates that in Gwinnett we have made progress with our grading practices such that even students with average grades typically do well on standardized tests," spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. "As a district, we have worked to make sure we have developed, implemented and communicated clear, complete and accurate grading practices.

"This work to ensure alignment between a rigorous curriculum, quality instruction, and meaningful assessments is making a difference in terms of student achievement. We are doing a better job than ever before in preparing students for the future, but acknowledge there is still work to do."

With a grade alignment score of 59.37 percent, Barrow County Schools was ranked 14th in the list of school systems with at least 100 test takers on all eight EOCTs.

Barrow County Schools Superintendent Ron Saunders said grading practices have been a concern for a number of years, but many teachers have participated in professional development dealing with effective methods of grading and assessment. In addition, teachers are encouraged to collaborate with one another and observe their colleagues' teaching practices, he said.

Saunders said the district has room to improve, but the report shows the school system is heading in the right direction. He noted the report shows the importance of including test objectives in the curriculum and motivating students to learn the objectives so they can apply them.

Claire Miller, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said teachers use and analyze data to help improve student achievement in their classrooms.

"I want to commend our teachers for their high level of professionalism and integrity," Miller said. "They have been encouraged (to use integrity in their grading practices), with principals leading the way, and it has been a self-disciplined process for them."

The complete report is available online at www.gaosa.org. Click on "News" and then "Research" to find the analysis.

SideBar: Grade Alignment Scores

The following shows the grade alignment scores some school systems received in the Governor's Office of Student Achievement's analysis of grading alignment in high schools. Scores were determined by dividing the total number of students who earned an A, B or C in each course and who exceeded standards on the associated End of Course Test by the total number of students who earned an A or B in the course.

School System

Grade Alignment Score

Cherokee County

82.23 percent

Jefferson City

77.36 percent

Oconee County

71.77 percent

Jackson County

70.07 percent

Forsyth County

64.69 percent

Decatur City

63.85 percent

Cobb County

61.07 percent

Barrow County

59.37 percent

Fulton County

57.89 percent

Clarke County

56.63 percent

Gwinnett County

56.17 percent

Buford City

48.7 percent

Source: Governor's Office of Student Achievement