Columbia County eighth-graders markedly improved their math scores on a standardized state test.
Every middle school in the county showed an increase over last year in the eighth-grade math portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, the results of which were released last week.
Last year, 473 eighth-graders failed the test in the first year that the state introduced the Georgia Performance Standards version of the exam. This year, 317 students failed.
In all, 81 percent of eighth-graders passed the test, an 8 percent increase over 2008.
Dr. Lisa Soloff, Columbia County's Title 1 director, credited educators for the improvements.
"We gave those eighth-grade math teachers some additional professional learning and they really worked hard at looking at our data and finding the areas we needed to improve on," Soloff said.
The county's top-performing middle school was its newest -- Stallings Island. The school, which opened in August, showed a 92.7 percent passing rate in math and a 97.7 percent passing rate in reading.
Columbia County's fifth-graders also improved in math, with 88 percent passing this year, a jump of 6 percentage points. Euchee Creek, North Columbia and South Columbia elementary schools were the only ones to show a drop in the percentage of fifth-graders passing the test, but only by slight amounts.
Though math scores were up, the number of Columbia County pupils who failed reading increased in third and fifth grades.
Eight more third-graders and 25 more fifth-graders failed the reading portion of the CRCT compared to last year. However, populations increased in both grade levels, so the percentage of third-graders passing the reading portion remained at 95 percent and the percentage of eighth-graders dropped 1 percent to 93. The number of eighth-graders passing reading increased by one percentage point to 96.
The most significant decrease came from North Harlem Elementary fifth-graders. Just 79.8 percent passed reading this year compared to 92.8 percent last year.
Soloff said North Harlem had a significantly larger number of special needs pupils in fifth grade this year, which might have skewed the scores.
Third-graders must pass the reading portion of the CRCT to advance to fourth grade. Fifth- and eighth-graders must pass reading and math to advance.
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