LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the second year in a row, students at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology aced the Georgia High School Graduation Tests.
All of the charter school's juniors passed the four sections of the mandatory high school exit exam when they took the tests this spring, according to data released Monday by the Georgia Department of Education. The 11th-graders were the school's second class ever to take the test.
The students posted the highest average scores in the state on all four portions of the exam: English/language arts, math, science and social studies. GSMST principal Jeff Mathews said the success speaks to the strength of the school's faculty and the dedication of its students.
"The level of rigor and high expectations for students begins in the ninth grade and is sustained by creating a positive and supportive school culture at GSMST," Mathews said. "Additionally, GSMST students represent young people from every school cluster within our school system, and these scores represent the solid foundation all students receive throughout the district."
Meanwhile, Buford High School's overall pass rate -- 94.9 percent -- bested those of most of the traditional schools in the state, including all in Gwinnett County Public Schools.
In the past three years, the lone high school of Buford City Schools has seen a "drastic increase" in its graduation test scores, principal Banks Bitterman said. Bitterman said he's most proud of the increase of students scoring at the advanced proficiency and honors levels.
"The incredible improvement over the last three years has come from hard work and dedication from faculty and students," Bitterman said. "It's exciting to see."
Within Gwinnett County Public Schools, three high schools had more than 90 percent of juniors pass all sections of the exam: Brookwood, North Gwinnett and Mill Creek.
Nine Gwinnett schools had between 82 and 89 percent of students pass all tests: South Gwinnett, Dacula, Grayson, Mountain View, Shiloh, Duluth, Peachtree Ridge, Collins Hill and Parkview.
In neighboring counties, Loganville High had a 78.5 percent overall passing rate. Barrow County's Apalachee High and Winder-Barrow High had overall passing rates of 72.9 percent and 69.4 percent, respectively.
The state is phasing out the Georgia High School Graduation Tests in favor of End of Course Tests. Students entering ninth grade this year and beyond will not be required to take the graduation test to receive a diploma. They will, however, still have to take the Georgia High School Writing Test.