Georgia CRCT scores improve in most areas

ATLANTA - Georgia students can breathe easy, thanks to improved test scores.

After dismal results on last year's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests - which are among the measurements Georgia uses to meet federal standards - students improved performance in every subject this year, particularly in mathematics and science, state data released Friday showed. Both subjects have been weaknesses for students in the past.

'The 2009 CRCT results are very encouraging and show that our students are learning more advanced concepts and are able to apply that knowledge properly,' said state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said in a news release. 'Our elementary and middle school teachers should feel very proud today they are getting the job done.'

Seventy percent of eighth-graders passed the math exam this year. That compared to last year's mark of 62 percent, which sent thousands of students to summer school looking to brush up on arithmetic and algebra before retaking the test again. Third-graders this year improved their math passage rate from 71 to 78 percent, and fifth-graders improved from 72 to 79 percent.

Third-graders must pass the reading CRCT, and fifth- and eighth-graders must pass both the math and reading tests to move on to the next grade. Students who fail twice have the option of appealing to school-based committees.

For science, 80 percent of third-graders passed the test, compared to 75 percent last year. The fourth-grade passing rate rose from 74 to 78 percent.

Overall, test scores improved in almost every subject of the CRCT this year. Subjects include math, reading, English language arts, science and social studies.

The scores are part of what Georgia uses to calculate progress under federal No Child Left Behind standards. Schools that consistently perform badly on the measurements face sanctions such as required tutoring for students and allowing parents to transfer their children to higher performing schools.

The results are a relief for Cox, who drew fire from parents and teachers last year when testing problems that led to nearly 40 percent of eighth-graders failing the math test on the first try. Cox also discarded the sixth- and seventh-grade social studies test scores last year because she found that the exam questions didn't match what students were taught in class.

The social studies curriculum and tests were revamped, which means the scores don't count for sixth- and seventh-graders this year because they are in pilot phase.