Bibb lags, Houston exceeds state performance on CRCT; both improve over last year in most areas

Fewer Bibb County students and more Houston County students passed this year’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests compared with the rest of the state, figures released Thursday show.

Meanwhile, the percentage of students passing the tests in Bibb and Houston counties stayed about the same or increased in the majority of categories compared with 2011 system-level data. That mirrors statewide data released earlier this month.

Bibb County saw one-year improvements in 18 out of 30 content-area tests, while Houston saw improvements in 22 of the tests.

The numbers released by the Georgia Department of Education are for third- through eighth-grade students who took the subject-based tests, which cover reading, English-language arts, math, science and social studies.

The tests measure students’ mastery of state performance standards.

State law requires that students in third, fifth and eighth grades meet or exceed expectations on the CRCT in reading to be promoted to the next grade. Fifth- and eighth-grade students must also meet or exceed expectations in math.

In Bibb County, 91.7 percent of sixth-graders passed the reading test, the highest performance on any test in any grade level in the county. However, only 45.4 percent of sixth-graders passed the science test, the lowest performance in the county.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re still seeing improvement in (some) subject areas,” said Bruce Giroux, Bibb County’s director of assessment and accountability.

The district saw the greatest systemwide improvement in reading. For the first time in five years, more than 80 percent of students across all levels passed the reading exam, Giroux said.

The district also saw improvement in social studies in four out of six grade levels, and improvement in science in five grade levels.

“Our area where we saw some decline, which is similar to some others in the state, is mathematics,” Giroux said. “We still have some work to do there.”

Giroux added that with the retest results, which were not included in the state data released to the public, all third-grade subjects saw improvement.

In Houston County, 97.2 percent of eighth-graders passed the reading test, the highest performance in the county. Sixth-graders taking the social studies test performed the lowest, with 79.7 percent passing.

“We are pleased with our scores and that we again outperformed the state in all areas,” Eric Payne, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning for Houston, said in a news release. “The hard work of our students, teachers, administrators and parents is to be commended. While celebrating these successes, we must not lose sight that a small percentage of students didn’t demonstrate mastery of the standards.”

To help those students become successful and help all students move from meeting to exceeding standards, Payne said the district will continue implementing its Response to Intervention model. The model provides layers of assistance -- such as targeted instruction with frequent monitoring of student response and progress -- for students needing additional support.

In other midstate districts, Jones and Monroe counties topped state averages in most categories, with Jones eighth-graders besting state science scores and Monroe third-graders exceeding state math scores by roughly 14 percentage points each. Third-grade reading performance fell across the midstate, while seventh-grade reading improved in local systems. In Crawford County, all sixth-graders met or exceeded reading standards.

State Superintendent John Barge said that while he was pleased to see statewide improvement in most of the exams, he was concerned with the areas where scores decreased or stayed the same.

“As we begin teaching the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards next school year, we know the curriculum and the tests will be more difficult, so we must continue to focus on successfully implementing the new standards,” he said in a news release.

School-level results will be available no later than July 12, state officials said.