Test scores fluctuated slightly, but school officials said they were pleased with the number of first time test-takers passing the Georgia High School Graduation Test.
"Overall, if you look at the percentage of kids passing, we actually had more students passing this test on the first try than ever before," School Superintendent Tommy Price said.
Among regular program 11th graders, 99 percent passed English language arts, 98 percent passed mathematics, 94 percent passed social studies and 88 percent passed science on this year's test. A passing score is 500 for all content areas.
Students take the test for the first time in their junior year and have five more opportunities to take it. A student must successfully complete all sections to earn a high school diploma.
The county's test scores were well above the state average and were above the comparison group average in all areas.
As compared to the 2003 test administration in Columbia County, average English language arts scores went down by two points from 550 to 548, math scores dropped by one point - from 542 to 541 - social studies went up by two points to 525 and science increased by one point to 520 - a wash when all the subject areas were totaled.
"The other thing that's telling is looking at the comparison group. We are out-performing the comparison group significantly, particularly in social studies and science," Price said. "In all, I think this is a very strong posting for this group of students. Our biggest concern is to try to get more and more kids meeting that proficient level, and we are moving in that direction and making some positive gains."
The school system scored eight points above the state average in mathematics, seven points above the state average in social studies and nine points above the state average in science.
The only school that posted scores below the state average was Harlem High School, which scored two points below the state score in English, five points below the state in mathematics and one point below the state in social studies.
The school posting the highest scores overall was Lakeside High. Its test-takers scored 11 points above the state in language arts, 15 points above the state in mathematics, 12 points above the state in social studies and 13 points above the state in science.
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