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Schools celebrate CRCT improvement

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

LAWRENCEVILLE -- With Wednesday's release of school-level CRCT results, Osborne Middle has something to celebrate.

The Mill Creek cluster school met one of the biggest goals in education: It has closed the achievement gap between white and minority students, school principal John Campbell said.

Osborne had some of the highest average scores in Gwinnett on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, which was administered this spring to students in grades 3 through 8. The state-mandated tests measure what students should know and be able to do at their grade level in reading, English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

"We scored very high, and we always have," Campbell said. "All my students improved, but my black and Hispanic students improved even more, to the point where in a couple of places they outperformed my white students."

Especially impressive is the fact that all of Osborne's Hispanic students -- which make up about 10 percent of the school's population -- passed the English/language arts portion of the CRCT at every grade level. Campbell said that's "almost unheard of."

Campbell said 99 percent of his students passed the tests, with 70 percent of them exceeding standards, or scoring at the highest level. He credits a schoolwide literacy initiative, which is in its seventh year.

"It can be done," he said of closing the achievement gap. "You've got to just stay with it and believe in the kids and get them to believe in themselves and equip them with the tools and get parents engaged -- and the sky's the limit."

The CRCT results also show that other schools' improvement efforts have worked.

Camp Creek Elementary School put a big focus on math instruction last year, using the Everyday Mathematics curriculum developed by the University of Chicago Mathematics Project. The program focuses on problem solving and helping kids develop different ways to solve math problems, said Kathy Jones, principal of the Parkview cluster school.

CRCT results show the school's average scores on the math portions of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests increased in grades 3, 4 and 5.

"We have had test scores that have been high traditionally," Jones said. "It's hard to get them higher than that, but we never give up. .... It's not just about getting kids to pass the test. We want our kids to do beyond that."

At her school, Jones said educators tracked the progress of subgroups of students. She said she was particularly proud that 46 percent of students with disabilities exceeded standards on the fourth-grade reading portion of the CRCT. Most students with disabilities struggle with reading.

Jones said she and other school personnel will study the results of the CRCT to determine areas of strength and weaknesses.

"We look at them very carefully ... and make a plan to keep our strengths going and improve our weaknesses," she said.

The school-level CRCT results released by the state include performance data for more than 1,200 elementary schools and 550 middle schools, broken down by test subject at each grade level.

Some Gwinnett schools posted 100 percent passing rates on some portions of the test. Those schools included Berkeley Lake Elementary, Brookwood Elementary, Couch Middle, Craig Elementary, Fort Daniel Elementary, Freeman's Mill Elementary, Head Elementary, Mulberry Elementary, New Life Academy of Excellence, Osborne Middle, Parsons Elementary, Pharr Elementary, Puckett's Mill Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Simpson Elementary, Suwanee Elementary and White Oak Elementary.

Results of the CRCT will factor into whether schools meet the state's accountability goals, or Adequate Yearly Progress.

Complete CRCT scores for Gwinnett area schools:

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade