EDITORIAL: Houston County staying student focused

June 13, 2014 

Houston County schools and the teachers, administrators who work in them are to be congratulated. Last week, they released the results of the 2013-14 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and End Of Course Tests. For some students in particular grades, third and eighth, these tests determine, in a large part, whether they will go on to the next grade.

The CRCT measures individual progress in reading, English, mathematics, science and social studies. Houston students were outstanding in eighth-grade reading, exceeding the state rate of 97 percent with 98.33 percent meeting or exceeding the standard. On the sixth-grade science test, considered a weak area in Houston County, the 78.72 percent meeting or exceeding still beat the state average of 75 percent.

There was also good news on the system’s graduation rate. Of the students who started ninth grade in 2009, 78.8 percent graduated on time with their cohort. Houston’s rate was again higher than the statewide rate of 71.8 percent.

One of the secrets in Houston County was displayed in a recent decision by the Houston County School Board to require all students to take final exams. In the past, students with good attendance, behavior and academic performance were exempt from taking a final exam. Board members were united in the 5-0 decision that their job was to prepare students for the next level. With the new testing procedures that begin next year, this is a good time to end the exemptions.

Georgia Milestones will replace the CRCTs. The new test, according to the Georgia Department of Education, will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in English language arts and mathematics and Georgia Performance Standards in science and social studies. “This testing system will require more from students than the CRCT and EOCT it replaces,” says the state DOE website. Students will have to get accustomed to much more writing and explaining how they work through assignments.

District level results will be available, according to the DOE, no later than June 26 and school level results, no later than July 10.

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