Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology top of state on grad test

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The inaugural class of the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology has set the bar high for students who take the Georgia High School Graduation Test in the future.

All of the school's juniors passed the four sections of the mandatory high school exit exam when they took the test for the first time this spring, according to data released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education. Furthermore, the majority of the 11th-graders scored at the highest level of each section of the test.

There's no reason to expect less of the remarkably gifted and talented students who attend the charter school, which has an academic program that focuses on mathematics and scientific inquiry and discovery in engineering, bioscience and emerging technologies, said Mary Kay Murphy, the chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

"All of the work that we've been doing for the curriculum for the students (not only) of the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, Technology -- but all of our schools -- has been focused on closing the achievement gap high," Murphy said. "So we're working very hard ... to emphasize rigor, emphasize relevance and evaluate each student to make sure they are being challenged at their very peak level."

DeKalb School of the Arts was the only other school in the state that had 100 percent of juniors pass the graduation test on their first attempt.

Many other Gwinnett schools fared well on the exam.

At six high schools -- GSMST, Brookwood, Parkview, Mill Creek, Buford and Collins Hill -- more than 90 percent of 11th-graders passed all portions of the graduation test.

Buford High School Principal Banks Bitterman said he's especially proud of his students' performance on the science section of the exam. More than 90 percent of the juniors scored in the advanced proficiency or honors levels in science.

"I'm just extremely proud of all my faculty and students for all their hard work and dedication," he said.

Throughout the state, more students scored at more advanced levels on the test, especially in science and language arts.

"The Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia are now saying that students hitting a higher mark on the GHSGT are prepared to succeed in college courses," State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said in a news release.

To graduate from high school, students must pass all portions of the graduation test, as well as the Georgia High School Writing Test.

The Georgia High School Graduation Test is administered for the first time during the spring of students' junior year. Students can retake the GHSGT as many times as needed to pass all sections.