Columbia County pupils showed improvement after the summer retests of a benchmark state exam.
Just 333 Columbia County pupils, 85 fewer than last year, failed a retest of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test last month after a summer school session. In all, 357 pupils out of 690 passed the CRCT on their second try, according to results released during a Tuesday school board meeting.
Though fewer Columbia County eighth-graders needed to retake the math portion of the CRCT, a smaller percentage of them passed the retest. Just 287 eighth-graders took the math retest last month. Of those eighth-graders, just 44 percent passed. The passing percentage in 2008 was 56 percent.
Still, school officials considered this a win since nearly 440 eighth-graders had to take the math retest in 2008.
"Clearly, we're moving in the right direction when it comes to math," Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway told school board members.
Eighth-grade math was a problem for many school systems last year as it was the first year the CRCT reflected the more rigorous math curriculum of the Georgia Performance Standards.
Georgia students in first through eighth grades initially took the CRCT in the spring, but retests were offered this summer for students who failed to pass required portions of the exam. Third-graders must pass reading, and fifth- and eighth-graders must pass reading and math to advance to the next grade.
The percentage of pupils passing the CRCT, after the summer retests were factored in, varied little compared to last year in each considered grade level. Except for fifth-grade reading, which slipped two percentage points to 96, reading scores improved in third and eighth grades, and math scores improved in fifth and eighth grades.
Though its pupils performed better than those in Richmond County, Columbia County school officials are considering following their neighbors' lead by offering CRCT remediation before school ends next year.
At a time when many schools systems are suffering a financial crisis because of state budget restraints, offering CRCT remediation during the school year could save Columbia County about $200,000, Title 1 Director Lisa Soloff recently said.
There could be other benefits as well, she said.
"You'd have teachers at the school who know the children," Soloff said. "They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they may know what works better for getting that across to those children."
An advantage for summer school remediation is that pupils receive more targeted instruction, Soloff said.
The school board likely will consider the issue this year, she said.
Students who don't pass a required portion of the CRCT can file an appeal with the child's school. Soloff said a committee of school administrators, teachers and a child's parents will examine the child's academic record during the school year and decide if he or she is worthy of promotion despite the CRCT score.
Appeal meetings in Columbia County will be held each day this coming week.
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