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BOE waives promotion requirements in Gateway review

SUWANEE -- The Gwinnett County Board of Education waived local promotion requirements for 278 elementary and middle school students who did not do as well as expected on state assessments, based on their classroom grades.

Gwinnett County Public Schools requires fourth- and seventh-grade students to pass each section of the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests to be promoted to the next grade level. Additionally, the school system requires fifth- and eighth-graders to pass the Georgia Writing Assessments.

The state only requires third-graders to pass the reading portion of the CRCT and fifth- and eighth-graders to pass the reading and math portions of the CRCT to be promoted.

In the school system's annual assessment review procedure, committees of teachers, principals and central office administrators reviewed the records of any student with a minimum of a C semester average in the subjects tested by the Gateway who failed any part of the Gateway test, according to a news release.

In addition to reviewing each student's Gateway scores, the committees examined each student's classroom performance as documented by teachers. Committee members also studied each student's standardized test data, writing standards, other assessment information and evidence of extenuating circumstances -- such as an illness or death in the family -- that might have caused the student to perform below expectations on the test, the news release states.

The committee then recommended one of three actions for each student: waive passage of this year's Gateway and promote to the next grade, waive passage of this year's Gateway but recommend summer school, or do not waive passage of this year's Gateway and require Gateway retake and passage for promotion.

Of the 396 cases, the Gateway requirements were waived for 278 students, and it was recommended that 219 of those attend summer school. The Gateway requirements were not waived for 118 students.

"Our review process allows us to look at these individual cases to ensure that one test is not used as a sole criterion for retaining a student who has earned an average of C or better all year," said Steve Flynt, the school system's associate superintendent for school leadership and operational support. "Our goal is to confirm that students have learned the necessary knowledge and skills they will need to be successful at the next grade level."