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APRIL 7, 2004


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SPORTS
Diamond Tigers Trying To Stay Afloat In Region
While still far from being mathematically shutout from the playoffs, the Commerce baseball team faces a steep hike if it wants to play beyond the regular season.

Surging Dragons win for fifth time in a row
The Jefferson baseball squad is in the midst of its longest winning streak of the season. Tuesday the Dragons improved to 10-4 overall with a 7-2 victory over region foe Social Circle.

Not too shabby
Panther golfers looking strong so far this season
With April now in full swing, the Jackson County golf program is preparing for the second half of what promises to be an exciting golf season.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Churches announce Easter services
The following local churches have announced their special Easter events, including services and egg hunts.

Annual Easter egg hunt set for Sunday
Mack and Sandra Garrison will host the huge annual Easter egg hunt on their farm land on Easter Sunday.
The hunt will begin at 2 p.m. and is open to children of all ages.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
State to investigate tax assessor’s office
Meanwhile, conflict between two county offices runs deep
A conflict between the county commission chairman’s office and the county tax assessor’s department is now a mighty tangled web.

Colbert, Danielsville postpone decision on IDA water proposal
The county industrial development authority (IDA) is asking both Colbert and Danielsville officials to let their city’s water systems serve as backup sources for a newly-planned county system.

Our Time and Place:
A History of
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A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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BUILDING SPLIT ON PROPERTY

The location of the new courthouse put it across the corner of a 4.4 acre tract which had not been annexed into the City of Jefferson. That created a pizza-shaped wedge on the back of the building which is actually in unincorporated Jackson County. An annexation request is pending before the Jefferson City Council.


New snafu: 30% of courthouse not in Jefferson
As if the location, financing and cost of the new Jackson County Courthouse weren’t enough for citizens to think about, now there’s a new issue to confront — not all of the $25 million, 124,000 sq. ft. facility is inside the city limits of Jefferson.
While working on some plans for new sewerage lines to the area, Jefferson officials discovered that part of the courthouse sat on a tract of land that had not been annexed into the city limits. City officials brought the matter to the attention of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, who then discovered that 30 percent of the building, which is still under construction on Darnell Road east of Jefferson, sat on unincorporated land.
State law mandates that courthouses be within the city limits of a county seat, but it is unclear if that means all of the building, or just part of it.
The part of the courthouse not in the city limits is a triangle shaped wedge on the back of the building where the corner of one unincorporated tract falls.
After discovering the snafu last month, county manager Al Crace filed an annexation request with the City of Jefferson for the 4.37 ac. tract on behalf of the BOC. That request is currently pending before the Jefferson City Council, which determines all annexations into the town.
When the BOC decided to build a new courthouse outside of downtown Jefferson, it purchased 160 acres two miles east of town for the site. That move brought intense criticism from many in the public, in part because the deal had been done in virtual secrecy and without public input.
The courthouse controversy then grew louder when the BOC decided to bypass voters and fund the facility with a lease-purchase plan. That move was challenged in court by a group of citizens who say voters should have been given the chance to be heard on such a large capital debt. That legal issue is currently awaiting a final decision by the Georgia Supreme Court.
So how did the BOC, in the midst of all this controversy, manage to put the building on a part of 160 acres that hadn’t been annexed into the city?
According to Crace, the BOC just didn’t know.
“Annexation records aren’t kept at the county clerk of court’s office,” he said. “One couldn’t determine all that. They are kept at the municipal level.”
As for the annexation, Crace said Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner had indicated it would be a routine matter.
“We think it will be a routine matter,” Crace said. “That is what the mayor has indicated. It was discovered and brought to our attention three weeks ago.”
Crace said that the property needs to be annexed so that it won’t create a conflict for the fire districts.
“If it isn’t annexed, then the back of the courthouse is in the Harrisburg fire district and the other three sides are in the Jefferson fire district,” he said. “Also, for franchise fees for the municipality, five percent electricity, three percent gas and those things, that depends on where the meter for the location sits. One could make a dispute about that. This should clear up all that revenue.”



Easter activities listed by local churches
The following local churches have announced their special events for Easter, including services and egg hunts.
New Liberty United Methodist Church, Braselton: An Easter egg hunt and other games will be held Saturday, April 10, at 11 a.m. Food will be provided and prizes will be given. Easter celebration services will be held Sunday, April 11, at 8:30 and 11 a.m. The choir will perform an Easter musical and the drama team will participate in the 11 a.m. service. The church is located at the intersection of New Liberty Church, Ednaville and Jesse Cronic roads. Jamey Prickett is pastor. For more information, call (706) 654-2406.
Life Spring Church, Commerce: The Easter service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m. The church is located at 41 State Street.
Thyatira Presbyterian Church, Jefferson: An Easter sunrise service will be held at the church on Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. Michael Jarrett, pastor of Jefferson Presbyterian Church, will speak at the joint service. The church is located at 2616 Commerce Road.
Unity Christian Church, Maysville: An Easter “Eggstravaganza” will be held Saturday, April 10, at 11 a.m. for children ages two through fifth grade. A sunrise service will be held on Easter Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. with breakfast to follow. The church’s choir will present the cantata “Our God Reigns,” arranged by Tom Fettke, during the morning hours. The church is located at 70 Unity Church Circle.
Bethany United Methodist Church, Jefferson: A special Holy Thursday Communion service will be held April 8, at 7 p.m. The Good Friday presentation of the “Living Cross” will be held April 9, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. An Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. An Easter sunrise service begins April 11, at 7 a.m. and breakfast will be served at 7:45 a.m. The church is located at 4659 Brockton Road. For more information, call (706) 367-8042.

Warren Chapel United Methodist Church, Commerce: An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 6 a.m. The Rev. Frank Earls, pastor of New Faith Methodist Church of Commerce, will speak. Breakfast will be served after the service. The church is located at 468 Homer Road. The Rev. Linwood Burns is pastor. For more information, call (706) 335-5597.

River of Life Church, Nicholson: The Easter drama, “Behold the Lamb,” will be presented on Saturday, April 10, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 11, at 10:50 a.m. The church is located at 4971 U.S. Hwy. 441 South. The Rev. Howard Rhodes is pastor.

Antioch United Methodist, Nicholson: Maundy Thursday service will be held April 8, at 7 p.m. An Easter sunrise service on the church lawn adjacent to the cemetery will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. The Rev. Don Hazelgrove of Bowman United Methodist Church will conduct the service. The Easter worship service begins at 11 a.m. The AJ’s (Antioch Juniors) will sponsor an egg hunt for children on the church lawn on Saturday, April 10, at 2 p.m. The church is located at 885 Antioch Church Road. Richard J. Cathy is pastor. For more information, call (706) 757-2210.

White Plains Baptist Church, Jefferson: An Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m., at the church. All children are invited. After the egg hunt, hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks will be served in the family life center. An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. Breakfast, prepared by the men of the church, will be served in the family life center after the service. The church’s choir will present special Easter music at 10:30 a.m. with the Rev. Jack Lawson, pastor, bringing the message. There is no Sunday school and no evening services. The church is located at 3650 Hwy. 124.

Lighthouse Congregational Holiness Church, Commerce: An Easter egg hunt and cook-out on will be held Saturday, April 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The church is located on Hwy. 98, between Maysville and Commerce. For more information, contact Sherry Lewis at 652-3285.

Calvary Baptist Church, Commerce: A Good Friday service will be held April 9, at 11 a.m. The Rev. Jerry Smith will speak and Communion will be served. The church is located on Hospital Road. The Rev. Donald L. Wilson is pastor.

Little Country Church, Commerce: An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and the worship service starts at 11 a.m. Sunday evening worship service is set at 6 p.m. The church is located at 1151 Old Airport Road. For more information, call (706) 367-7019.

Hoschton First Baptist Church, Hoschton: The church’s choir will present the musical, “Because He Lives,” on Sunday, April 11. Sunday school begins at 9:45 a.m. and the worship service starts at 11 a.m. The church is located on East Jefferson Street, off Hwy. 53. Steve Parr is the interim pastor.

Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Commerce: The church’s choir will present the Easter musical, “Written in Red,” on Sunday, April 11, from 10:45 a.m. to noon. The church is located at 190 Mt. Olive Church Road. Eric Tyson is pastor. For more information, call (706) 335-4405.

Cabin Creek Baptist Church, Nicholson: An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. Breakfast will be served in the fellowship hall following the service. The church is located on Cabin Creek Road, between Nicholson and Commerce. The Rev. Rex Long is pastor.

Holly Springs United Methodist Church, Pendergrass: An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. Breakfast will be provided by the U.M. Men’s Club after the service. An Easter cantata, “Who Do You Say I Am?,” will be presented by the church’s choir, under the direction of Glenda Langford, at 11 a.m. There will be no Sunday school classes. The church is located at 7441 Holly Springs Road. The Rev. Tom Fish is pastor.

Combined services, Commerce: The congregations of three Commerce churches will hold combined Holy Week services Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The First Baptist Church of Commerce, located at 1345 South Elm Street, will host the Maundy Thursday service Thursday at 7 p.m., which will commemorate the events of Jesus’ life on the eve of the Last Supper. The First United Methodist Church, located at 54 Cherry Street, will host the Good Friday service Friday at 7 p.m., recounting the crucifixion of Jesus. Then, at 8 a.m. Sunday, Commerce Presbyterian Church, located at 89 Lakeview Drive, will hold an Easter morning service celebrating the resurrection and empty tomb. Each of the three churches will also hold separate Easter celebrations during their morning worship services Sunday.

Joint services, Jefferson: Jefferson Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church of Jefferson and First United Methodist Church of Jefferson will hold joint services this week. First Baptist Church will host the Maundy Thursday service, at 7 p.m. on April 8. The Rev. John Moore, pastor of First UMC, will be delivering the homily. Communion will be offered. Good Friday service will be held at 7 p.m. on April 9, at First UMC. The Rev. Michael Jarrett, pastor of Jefferson Presbyterian, will deliver the sermon. First Baptist is located at 246 Washington Street, First UMC is located at 188 Martin Street and Jefferson Presbyterian is located at 243 Washington Street.

Center Baptist Church, Center: An Easter sunrise service will be held April 11, at 6:30 a.m., Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and the worship service starts at 11 a.m. The church is located on U.S. Hwy. 441. Gary Prater is the pastor. For more information, call (706) 757-3083.

St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Mission, Commerce: Holy Thursday Mass will be held April 8, at 5:30 p.m. A Good Friday service, April 9, will start at 3 p.m. with the Stations of the Cross and a “Celebration of the Lord’s Passion” at 7 p.m. The Easter Sunday celebration of Holy Mass will be held April 11, at 11:30 a.m. St. Catherine’s is located at 708 State Street. Father Darragh W. Griffith is pastor. For more information, call Father Griffith, at (706) 886-2819 or John Burke Jr., deacon, at (706) 335-3988.

Dry Pond United Methodist Church, Jefferson: The annual chickenque will be held Saturday, April 10, at 11 a.m. Plates are $5 and eat-in and take-out are available. A hand-made quilt will be raffled, a bake sale will be held and games will also be featured. Kids activities start at 10:30 a.m. and the egg hunt starts at 11:45 a.m. An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at Hurricane Shoals Park, at 7 a.m. Regular worship service with special Easter choir music will be held at 11 a.m. at the church. The church is located at 10 Plainview Road. For more information, call (706) 367-2822.

Berea Baptist Church, Commerce: An Easter sunrise service will be held on Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m., at the Berea Community Center on Hwy. 334. Breakfast will be served after the service by the “Berea Men.” An Easter play will be presented on Sunday, at 11 a.m. The church is located on Berea Church Road. For more information, call the Rev. Terry James, pastor, at (706) 788-2925.


Maysville United Methodist Church, Maysville: A community Easter celebration will be held at Maysville’s Veteran Park on Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than 6,000 eggs will be hidden and prizes will be given in various categories. There will also be a 20 foot slide, moon walk, clowns, balloons, snow-cones and cotton candy. All events are free for everyone. Also, a chickenque will be held Saturday, April 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the church. Plates are $6 each with extra plates are available without prior ticket purchase. An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m., at Strickland Hall, located at 8584 Maysville Road. The men’s club of the church will prepare breakfast.
An extended traditional service starts at 10:30 a.m., at the church. There will be no Sunday school classes. The church is located at 16 N. Main Street, Maysville. For more information, call (706) 652-2978, (706) 367-8388 or (706) 336-8019.

Galilee Christian Church, Jefferson: Maundy Thursday service will be held April 8, at 7 p.m. An Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday, April 10, at 9:30 and 10:15 a.m. Easter worship service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m. and will feature the adult choir with some brass and string accompaniment. There will be no evening services. The church is located at 2191 Galilee Church Road. For more information, call (706) 367-8072.

Jefferson Presbyterian Church, Jefferson: Morning prayers will be held in the sanctuary during Holy Week, Monday, April 5 through Friday, April 9, at 9 a.m. A Good Friday service of psalms and prayers will be held from noon to 3 p.m. A joint Easter sunrise service will be held at Thyatira Presbyterian Church at 7 a.m. on April 11. The church is located at 243 Washington Street, Jefferson. For more information, call (706) 367-5577.

First Baptist Church, Jefferson: An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m., in front of the cross on the church lawn. Following the service, breakfast will be served in the fellowship hall. Easter worship services will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. The church is also participating in joint Holy Week services with First United Methodist Church of Jefferson and Jefferson Presbyterian Church (see related announcement). The church is located at 246 Washington Street. For more information, call (706) 367-8332.

Maranatha Baptist Church, Jefferson: An “Easter Celebration” will be held on Saturday, April 10, from noon to 2 p.m. The event will include an egg hunt, cookout, message and games. An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, with a time to be determined. There will be no Sunday school on Easter and the worship service begins at 11 a.m. The church is located at 65 Ebenezer Church Road. Kevin Page is pastor. For more information, call (706) 367-2825.

Zion Baptist Church, Braselton: The annual Easter egg hunt will be held on Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m. The egg hunt will be held at the church’s property outside of Braselton. The property is located at 8195 Hwy. 124, Hoschton. All children ages pre-school through fourth grade are welcomed to participate. Games, puppets, prizes and refreshments will be featured. Easter communion service will be held on Sunday, April 11, at 8 a.m., followed by a church-wide breakfast. Sunday school begins at 9:45 a.m. and Easter service will be held at 11 a.m. The church is located at 401 Zion Church Road. For more information, call (706) 654-3205.

Center United Methodist Church, Hoschton: The annual Easter egg hunt will be held on Saturday, April 10, at 1 p.m. Each child is encouraged to bring a dozen eggs to be hidden. The Easter drama will be presented on Saturday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. “Many events in Jesus Christ’s life will be re-enacted, including His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Lord’s supper and the resurrection,” organizers stated. A sunrise service will be held Easter Sunday, April 11, at 7:15 a.m. Breakfast will be served after the service. Easter worship service begins at 11 a.m. The church is located at 7641 Jackson Trail Road. Greg Dillard is pastor. For more information, call (706) 654-4862.

Mountain Creek Baptist Church, Pendergrass: An Easter egg hunt will be held on Saturday, April 10, at 2 p.m.”Bring your baskets and one dozen individually wrapped or hard-boiled eggs,” organizers stated. On Easter Sunday, the adult choir will present the musical God’s Holy Lamb” with narratives by the youth of the church. The Rev. Tommy Fountain, director of missions of the Mulberry Association, will present the Easter message. The worship service starts at 11 a.m. The church is located at 1116 Mountain Creek Road. For more information, call Jeff Langley, pastor, at (770) 867-7937.

Arcade Community Church, Arcade: An Easter sunrise service will be held on Sunday, April 11, at 6 a.m. Members of the church will present the re-enactment of “At the Tomb” in Biblical clothing. Following the service, breakfast will be served in the fellowship hall. The church is located on Hwy. 82 South, off Hwy. 129. For more information, call Palmer Pace, pastor, call (706) 367-4740 or Gwen Sims, pastor’s assistant, at (770) 287-0158.

Center Grove Baptist Church, Pendergrass: The “celebration of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus” will be held on Saturday, April 10, starting at 11 a.m. Activities will include a picnic, egg hunt, “chalk zone,” horseshoes, volleyball, moon walk and food. Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 6:30 a.m. The church is located at 5154 Pond Fork Road. For more information, or transportation, call (706) 654-0260 or (706) 654-0416.

Walnut Fork Baptist Church, Hoschton: A children’s Easter celebration will be held on Saturday, April 10, at 11 a.m. The event will feature an egg hunt, Easter story and snacks. An Easter drama will be held Friday, April 9 through Sunday, April 11, at 7 p.m. Admission is free and visitors are welcomed. An Easter sunrise service will be held Sunday, April 11, at 7 a.m. Coffee and doughnuts will be served in the fellowship hall after the service. The church is located on Hwy. 60. For more information, call (706) 654-3904.

Sharon Baptist Church, Hoschton: The annual Easter egg hunt will be held on Saturday, April 10, from 1-2:30 p.m. The egg hunt is for all ages, from newborns to children 10-years-old. “Those who are 11-years-old and older can come and assist in hiding Easter eggs for the youngsters to find,” organizers stated. The church is located at the intersection of Hwy. 124 and Hwy. 211. The Rev. Marion Prather is pastor. For more information, call (770) 867-1107.

Ebenezer United Methodist Church, Jefferson: An Easter sunrise service will be held April 11, at 7 a.m. with a biscuit breakfast to follow. Sunday school for all ages begins at 10 a.m. An Easter celebration service starts at 11 a.m. The church is located at 1394 Ebenezer Church Road. Tilly Welborn is pastor. For more information, call (706) 658-6200.

Arbor Pointe United Methodist Church, Hoschton: An Easter sunrise service will be held on Sunday, April 11, at 6:15 a.m., at Sells Mill Park on Jackson Trail Road, Hoschton. “Bring a blanket or folding chair as we gather on the hillside for the message of Jesus’ resurrection,” organizers stated. For more information, contact Joe McKechnie, pastor, at (706) 367-8294 or visit www.arborpointe.org.


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Cemetery Gets New Entrance Way
The main entrance to Grey Hill Cemetery in Commerce looks a little better this week.
Workers installed an arched sign over the upper Scott Street entrance to the city cemetery, culminating a year-long effort between the city and the Four Seasons Garden Club.
Betty Minish and Geraldine Spear of the garden club were the instigators.
“We suggested they (the city) could do something to upgrade the cemetery,” Mrs. Minish said.
The process started with finding signs indicating the location of the cemetery to people not familiar with the city.
“Then, we asked them to spruce it up, so they put posts at each entrance and from that grew the need for some sort of sign,” Mrs. Minish noted.
Tucker Iron Works submitted the low bid, and the arch was delivered last month. However, it was heavier than expected, Mrs. Minish said, and the concrete work on the twin entrance pillars had to be re-done to accommodate it.
Mrs. Minish said the garden club is looking into the possibility of planting shrubs or trees to further enhance the appearance of the cemetery.
“It’s been neglected for too long,” she declared.


No decision yet for debated subdivision
Hoschton council meets in closed-door meeting to discuss possible lawsuit
Residents of Quail Crossing and Deer Creek Farms subdivisions in Hoschton still don’t know if they’ll have an additional neighborhood next to their properties.
Following a closed-door meeting that lasted one and a half hours on Monday night, the city council decided to waive annexing and rezoning a 30-acre property on Peachtree Road being developed by Ken Gary for an 85-lot subdivision. A decision might be made next month.
Gary wants the property, which is wedged between the two subdivisions, to become the second phase of The Village at Hoschton.
The annexation and rezoning request has been a hot topic in Hoschton.
At the Hoschton Planning Commission meeting in March, residents spoke in opposition to the request for almost two hours. Many of the residents said they opposed the higher density subdivision when they moved to Hoschton for its rural character.
Gary later objected to the public hearing’s procedures, including the manner in which the vote was taken. The Hoschton Planning Commission makes recommendations to the city council, which has the final decision on planning requests.
Gary asked the city’s attorney to review a tape recording of the public hearing and requested several documents related to his proposal. His attorney, Kathryn Zickert, and an official recorder were present at Monday’s meeting.
Council member Deborah Donaldson, a resident of Quail Crossing, recused herself prior to the discussion about Gary’s request. She said she still wanted to speak as a resident of Hoschton and not as a council member.
“The challenge before the city and now its future, is to weigh the proposed application against the opinion of the majority and against the comprehensive plan,” she said.
Council member Jim Keinard addressed concerns about his impartiality of Gary’s request. Keinard’s wife signed a petition in opposition of the proposal.
“It was not my decision,” he said. “It was her decision.”
Keinard contented that he can keep an open mind about the request, by looking at the city’s comprehensive land use plan, infrastructure needs and a report by planning consultant Don McFarland. That report, he added, was “extremely vague” and needs clarification.
Keinard didn’t recuse himself from the proceedings.
“We have heard loud and clear from the community at the planning hearing,” Gary said, while adding some changes have been made to his plans.
Zickert said Gary is proposing to reduce the density to two houses per an acre. Outside the meeting, she said that might bring about 61 houses.
Hoschton attorney Thomas Mitchell and Zickert met privately several times during the closed-door meeting to negotiate terms for Gary’s proposal.
Among some of the conditions are: maximum density can’t exceed two houses per an acre with 16,335 square feet as the minimum lot size, no rear-access alleys in the subdivision, homes must be at least 2,000 square feet, a 50-foot buffer for the existing property owners must be placed and pedestrian access to Peachtree Road is to be provided by a trail and/or sidewalk.
Gary also won’t be allowed to get a development or building permit until the city engineer says the water and sewer systems have capacity for the subdivision.
The Hoschton City Council is expected to hold a second reading of the annexation and rezoning requests next month. Gary should have a revised site plan of his development for the second reading, Mitchell said.
John Turpin, a Peachtree Road resident, was one of several people who spoke against the request on Monday. He said he wants to see the new plans before the city council votes on the proposal.
“Now we have a completely different development to what was presented,” Turpin said.


CRCT tests looming
Third graders’ reading test results may mean pass or fail for the year
The upcoming Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, better known as CRCT, may determine which third-graders move on to the fourth grade, or get held back for more help with reading.
That decision was to have been made Wednesday on the last day of the Georgia General Assembly in Atlanta, but that vote had not been made as of press time.
At issue is whether or not to proceed with earlier plans to mandate all Georgia third-graders meet a minimum requirement in reading on the CRCT exam to advance into the fourth grade. Some state leaders want to delay implementing the plan for another year and some projections suggest that a large number of students across the state would be held back this year if the mandate stays in place.
Locally, school system leaders are preparing as if the mandate does not get overturned. Local schools will begin CRCT testing this month; Jefferson is scheduled for testing the week of April 19, while Jackson County schools will begin the test April 26.
HIGH STAKES TESTING
Called an example of “high stakes testing” by some, the CRCT was implemented in Georgia in the spring of 2000 to determine how well the state’s curriculum is being met. It differs from the other “big” norm-referenced tests, like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) or the Stanford 9, in that it focuses only on Georgia’s content standards rather than national ones.
Statewide, students in grades one through eight take the CRCT reading, English/language arts and math segments, plus third through eighth graders take science and social studies tests as well.
Locally, educators say test preparation is a year-long effort, not a last-minute cram session.
“We’ve been preparing throughout the year,” said North Jackson Elementary School assistant principal Teresa Strickland. “In general, I feel we are well prepared....We have good daily instruction, and we assess weak areas.”
Like other county schools, NJES has after-school tutoring, acceleration days two weeks in the year, an Early Intervention Program and small-group and mentoring instruction.
Pam Shields, assistant principal at South Jackson Elementary School, echoed Strickland’s sentiments, saying that regular benchmark tests at all county schools have helped the faculty stay aware of any weak areas, and also helps students get used to testing.
“Every quarter, we take a benchmark assessment,” Shields explained. “They are 20-item tests in math and grammar...The teacher will go over benchmarks with them and discuss why they missed a question. I do an item analysis for each grade level so we can detect weak areas.”
Likewise, the upper grades have timed math tests each week, which Shields responds to for each individual student, and all students participate in the Accelerated Reader Program, also getting individual feedback from Shields.
There is also an oral, informal reading inventory taken individually for each child through eighth grade several times a year at county schools, according to Dr. Mary Leuzinger, Jackson County curriculum director.
“We sit down with every individual child and have them read graded passages to us,” she explained. “By having them perform individually, no child slips through the cracks. With a silent, multiple choice test, you just can’t get that knowledge.”
Regular assessments also helps students adjust to testing, educators say.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Jackson Herald