Columbia County pupils showed marked gains on a benchmark exam, according to results released last week.
Reading scores for third-graders as well as reading and math scores for fifth- and eighth-graders all improved on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
Nearly 97 percent of Columbia County's third-graders met or exceeded the CRCT standards for reading. That is about 2 percentage points more than last year, according to state Department of Education data.
Nearly 96 percent and 98 percent of fifth- and eighth-graders, respectively, also passed the reading portion of the CRCT. Those scores also are gains. In 2009, 93.8 percent of fifth-graders passed while 95.9 percent of eighth-graders did the same.
In math, 89 percent of fifth-graders passed while just 83.5 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded standards. Still, that is a 2.5 percent increase for eighth-graders over last year and a 0.9 percent increase for fifth-graders.
The CRCT is a benchmark exam used to determine an elementary or middle school's adequate yearly progress, along with attendance rates.
The exam also was conceived to halt social promotion. Third-graders must pass reading, and fifth- and eighth-graders must pass reading and math, to immediately advance to the next grade.
Columbia County school officials were in a training sessions last week and had not yet fully analyzed the state data as of Thursday.
However, Title 1 Director Lisa Soloff did notice that the school system's scores were greater than the state average across every grade level on the reading and math portions of the CRCT.
"I'm pretty sure, we're above everything in the reading area from last year," Soloff said. "We're really pleased with our reading results."
Soloff credited the boost in reading scores to a new instructional program called Imagine It.
Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway noted that pupils in all grade levels showed increases in reading while everyone except eighth-graders improved in language arts when compared to 2009 test scores.
"In the math portion, it looks we had some gains and some decreases, but overall our scores were something that were positive," Carraway said. "Still, there is always room to improve."
The official CRCT results for individual schools will be released by the DOE next month.
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