Bryan County schools Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) results were released Tuesday, with the district’s results beating out statewide averages.
This year, there were eight CRCT exams aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards for the first time: Math in grades 3-5 and 8, science in grade 8 and social studies in grades 6-8.
"We are holding our students to a higher standard so that when they get their diploma it will mean they are truly ready for the demands of the 21st century," State Superintendent Kathy Cox said. "If we don’t raise standards in these and other core areas, we are doing a disservice to our students and our state."
Locally, nearly 92 percent of all Bryan County 3rd graders met or exceeded reading standards, 92.3 percent met or exceeded English Language Arts standards, nearly 83 percent met or exceeded in math, about 87 percent in science and 95 percent in social studies.
More than 92 percent of Bryan County’s 5th graders met or exceeded reading standards, almost 95 percent met or exceeded ELA standards, 78.3 percent met or exceeded in math, 83.3 percent in science and almost 93 percent in social studies.
Nearly 97 percent of Bryan County’s 8th graders met or exceeded reading standards, more than 92 percent in ELA, 70 percent in math, almost 78 percent in science and almost 67 percent in social studies.
The results of these tests are not comparable to the 2006-2007 school year, when the test was aligned to the old curriculum. Bryan County school officials are currently creating a summary and comparison of the results, Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer said.
Statewide, 72 percent of 5th graders and 62 percent of 8th graders passed the newly GPS aligned CRCT in math. Sixty percent of 8th graders passed the new science CRCT.
The results of the 6th and 7th grade CRCT social studies exams were invalidated, "due to alignment issues on the test," the GaDoE said.
Susan Walker, the policy and research director for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, said they fully support the new standards held to these CRCTs.
"I believe the Georgia Performance Standards are taking us in exactly the direction we need to be going. It is better…to see annual growth on assessments that measure rigorous knowledge and skills rather than seeing higher levels of achievement on a weak or watered-down curriculum," she said. "While many stakeholders throughout the state expressed criticism and concern over some of this year’s CRCT results, we must keep in mind the end goal – educating our kids to their highest potential and ensuring that what we teach them allows them to be competitive with students from across the country and prepared for whatever their next step may be."
State law requires students in 3rd grade to pass the reading CRCT and students in 5th and 8th grades must pass the reading and math CRCT before moving forward to the next grade.
Students who do not pass must be offered the chance to get extra instruction, generally in the form of summer school, and take the test again.
State officials said overall, student performance increased in 2008 and, slowly but surely, achievement gaps are closing in subjects where Georgia has had the new curriculum in place for at least one year.
"These results provide further proof that our teachers are doing a great job implementing our new curriculum," Cox said. "It also shows that when you raise expectations, Georgia students will rise up and meet that higher bar in all areas."
Walker described the results as "commendable."
At the Partnership, Walker said they first look at 3rd grade reading and 8th grade math results.
"On the 3rd grade reading assessment, scores overall increased and the achievement gaps narrowed slightly from 2007 to 2008. This is good news," she said. "But…if we narrow achievement gaps by only two percentage points each year, it will be another six years before our black and white students perform at the same level of proficiency (for this particular CRCT exam)."
Walker said a dip in achievement was expected in the overall 8th grade math results, since it was the first year the test was aligned with the GPS curriculum.
"No doubt, our schools, teachers and students will continue improving given a few more years with the new curriculum," Walker said.
For individual schools’ CRCT results or for study guides, practice tests and information about retesting, visit http://public.doe.k12.ga.us.