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May 28, 2008

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State tosses out low CRCT results
It was a problem that local school officials say they suspected soon after receiving early results of a mandatory student test.
“We knew something wasn’t right,” said Sherrie Gibney-Sherman, associate superintendent for instructional services for the Jefferson City School System.
That problem was the low number of sixth and seventh grade students in Georgia who didn’t meet the standards of the social studies exam on the CRCT.
Statewide, an estimated 20-30 percent of those students passed the exam.
An initial analysis of results among students in the Jackson County School System showed similar numbers.
The county school system said last week that 25 percent of sixth graders passed the social studies exam, while 20 percent of seventh graders met standards.
The Jefferson City School System estimated last week that 48 percent of sixth graders and 41 percent of seventh graders passed the social studies exam.
Last Wednesday, the state department of education tossed out the results of the sixth and seventh grade social studies exam on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT).
State superintendent Kathy Cox said the results were “implausibly low, which raised serious questions.”
“After intense scrutiny of the standards and the assessment, we have come to the conclusion that these scores are not trustworthy measures of student achievement in social studies,” Cox said in a statement.
“It is important to note that we found nothing technically incorrect with the scoring of these assessments,” she continued. “This decision is based primarily on the conviction that we need to revise the curriculum and the assessments to better evaluate the knowledge and skills that represent student achievement in social studies.”
Shannon Adams, superintendent of the Jackson County School System, said he was relieved that the state department of education acted quickly to invalidate the social studies results. County school system leaders suspected there was a serious issue with the results soon after receiving initial data.
“Obviously, it was a pretty big disappointment to have teachers and kids work that hard and have the scores come back just ridiculously low and there’s obviously a problem with the test,” he said.
Adams said before the state indicated that something was wrong with the social studies exam, teachers were distraught and disappointed with the results.
“Initially, (teachers) were devastated,” Adams said. “They knew how hard they had worked teaching the new curriculum.”
Gibney-Sherman also said Jefferson teachers were frustrated with the results. The city school system sent a letter to middle school parents warning them about the lower social studies results before the end of the school year.
Cox has pledged to organize a panel of teachers and curriculum leaders to revise the social studies curriculum for sixth and seventh grades.
She also said school systems will receive letters from the state to document the nullification of the scores in student records. Adams said Wednesday that Jackson County schools haven’t received that letter yet.
Despite lower math scores among eighth graders on the CRCT, Cox said those results won’t be invalidated.
Earlier, she attributed the math scores to the state’s new curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards. Cox said the higher standards are “very rigorous.”
“When you raise standards and expectations, it is not unusual to see a temporary dip in the percent of students who are meeting those expectations,” Cox said.
Adams said Jackson County School System leaders expected the “implementation dip,” but math scores were slightly lower than anticipated.
Almost 70 percent of eighth graders in the Jackson County School System passed the math exam, according to initial CRCT reports.
Gibney-Sherman said last week that 89 percent of sixth graders, 97 percent of seventh graders and 85 percent of eighth graders in the Jefferson City Schools passed the math portion of the CRCT.
The Georgia Department of Education said it expected that about 60 percent of students in eighth grade passed the math exam.
Eighth graders who failed the math exam can attend summer school and retake the CRCT. The same is true for those fifth and eighth grade students who failed the language arts and math exams, and third grade students who failed the reading portion.
Adams said Jackson County elementary school students in the lower grades did well on the math exam of the CRCT. Initial reports show 90 percent of first graders, 93 percent of second graders and 85 percent of third graders passed the exam.


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