Columbia County pupils scored lower than their counterparts last year on their second chance at passing a standardized state exam.
Third-, fifth- and eighth-graders initially failing the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test took it again last month, and the results were released Tuesday during a school board meeting.
In every recorded category, except eighth-grade math scores, a lower percentage of pupils passed the retest. However, when the summer scores are added with scores from the testing in April, more pupils overall passed the exam.
The combined results show 98 percent of third-graders passing reading, 99 percent of fifth-graders passing reading, 99 percent of eighth-graders passing reading, and 92 percent of eighth-graders passing math. The one exception is fifth-grade math, with the same percentage of pupils, 94, passing as did last year.
On the retests, 40 percent of third-graders passed the reading portion of the CRCT compared with 50 percent last year. But 34 pupils took the retest in 2009, compared with just 21 this year.
The numbers are similar for fifth-grade reading and math, and eighth-grade reading.
The percentage of eighth-graders passing the retest rose by 9 for an overall 53 percent pass rate. However, 150 pupils took the exam, which is 25 more than last year.
The CRCT measures elementary- and middle-school pupil aptitude in core subjects. Third-graders must pass the reading portion of the exam to advance to the next grade. Fifth- and eighth-graders must pass reading and math to advance.
Those who fail the exam are allowed to enroll in a remediation course in summer school and retake the exam.
Along with attendance rates, the CRCT is a factor in determining an elementary or middle school's adequate yearly progress as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Schools that continually fail to make AYP face increasing sanctions from the state Department of Education. Those sanctions might include a requirement to offer free supplementary remediation classes, allow pupils to attend a different school, or restructuring the school under state guidance.
The results of the initial CRCT administration in April were released last week, with most Columbia County schools showing gains or just slight drops. The state DOE might release AYP results this week.
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