Fewer students in Peach County’s elementary schools passed the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in almost all subjects in 2010 compared to last year, while its middle-schoolers showed gains, according to data from the Georgia Department of Education.
Notably, there are declines between this year and last in third-grade scores, and in some subjects, double digit percentage point declines in fifth-grade scores. In the third and fifth grades, as well as the eighth, CRCT scores in certain subjects determine whether students are promoted to the next grade.
The switch to the four-day school week in the 2009-2010 school year did not have an adverse effect on test scores, with test score improvements in the sixth through eighth grades, said Tanzy Kilcrease, Peach County’s school improvement director for grades K-8. Rather, the drop primarily came from institutional transition at the elementary school level throughout the year, she said.
Students at Kay Road and Hunt elementary schools were previously scheduled to move into new buildings by the beginning of January, but road paving delayed by bad weather pushed the move until early May.
Even before the switch to the new building was set to take place, other changes were put into effect: Hunt Primary and Elementary had merged to form a revamped Hunt Elementary, and students at both Kay Road and Hunt were temporarily housed at the former Hunt Primary and Elementary buildings, respectively, until moving to their new facilities, Kilcrease said.
“It was a lot of transition, a lot of things going on,” she said.
While more third-graders passed the reading section of the CRCT this year over last, fewer passed the science section.
This year, 67 percent of third-graders passed the reading section, up from 62.7 percent last year. The science section pass rate dropped nearly 8 percentage points, from 76.8 percent in 2009 to 69.1 percent in 2010.
Fifth-grade scores also showed a significant decrease in those who met the standards.
Only 56.3 percent of fifth-graders passed the math section, falling from 69.2 percent last year. On the social studies section, the fifth grade pass rate fell from 64.1 percent in 2009 to 51.3 percent this year.
However, there were exceptions to the trend. The pass rate among Peach County’s first-graders actually improved in reading, gaining a nearly 10 percentage point increase in students passing that section to 91.3 percent, as well as for English language arts. Fourth grade scores also saw improvements in math, science and social studies this year.
Meanwhile, CRCT scores among Peach County’s sixth- through eighth-graders showed overall improvement from last year’s scores. Notably, there were major increases in the pass rates in all subjects for seventh-graders. For example, 96.6 percent of seventh-graders passed the English language arts section, a significant boost from 85.5 percent the year before.
Peach County’s middle-schoolers also passed the reading and English language arts portions at a higher rate compared to their peers statewide.
“There was much more stability in middle and high school overall, but elementary school was topsy-turvy all around,” Kilcrease said.
To help boost student achievement, educators in Peach County will continue to use other measures of student academic progress through the year, such as formative assessments, classroom work and other data to monitor student progress, as well as working closely with teachers to hone in on individual strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, she predicted scores in elementary grades should see improvement as their school environment is stabilized, just as middle school scores have seen improvements.
Rather than being a hindrance to student success, Kilcrease feels implementing the four-day school week helped push teachers and students to make the most of their class time.
“I really do believe that the four-day school week heightened a sense of urgency, that every minute we have with the students has to be maximized,” Kilcrease said. “We have to make sure every experience is beneficial. There’s no time to waste.”
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.