CRCT scores show gaps between highest, lowest performing schools

The state Department of Education released school-level results Thursday for the 2012 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, showing clear gaps between each area’s highest and lowest performing schools.

Last month, the state released systemwide data on the tests, with Bibb County students showing one-year improvement in 18 out of 30 content areas, while Houston County saw improvement in 22 of the tests.

Statewide, Georgia students showed one-year improvements in 20 of 30 content areas, according to DOE data.

While Houston schools bested the state average of students meeting or exceeding standards, the new data show some significant school-to-school gaps.

Ninety-nine percent of fifth-graders at Quail Run Elementary School passed the math exam, but just half of Pearl Stephens Elementary School fifth-graders passed the test.

“Here’s the reality of it. They are not performing academically where we would like to see them perform, but we understand that each school has a different set of students and come from a different set of circumstances,” said Eric Payne, Houston County’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “Even though some may not come to the table with as much as students at other schools, it’s our job to figure out what we need to do to help them be successful.”

Title I funds, which are awarded to schools that serve students in higher poverty areas, have been drastically cut over the past few years, Payne said.

More than 97 percent of fifth-graders at Bonaire Elementary School met or exceeded standards in science, besting the state average by nearly 20 percentage points, while just more than 43 percent of their counterparts at Lindsey Elementary School passed that portion of the exam.

“When we receive those cuts it does impact some schools, like Lindsey that would receive those funds,” Payne said. “But no excuses. ... All kids can learn.”

At the middle school level, 90 percent of sixth-graders at Feagin Mill Middle School passed social studies while just more than 70 percent passed at Northside Middle School. More than 96 percent of Feagin Mill Middle seventh-graders passed the social studies test, compared to nearly 72 percent at Northside Middle.

More eighth-graders at Warner Robins Middle School passed the math exam than at Thomson Middle School, exceeding Thomson Middle’s pass rate by nearly 20 percentage points. Eighth-grade science results showed 92 percent passing at Mossy Creek Middle School and 77 percent at Northside Middle.

Payne said central office and school officials are working together to boost performance overall -- even at those schools that are already above the state average. Teachers and administrators have formed leadership teams that are working over the summer to develop school improvement plans.

“With some of the things we have put in place, it will take time to see the results, but we also need to figure out what works now. ... Every day a student’s not performing to that point that they’re successful is another day that student is falling behind.”

The tests are given to students in third through eighth grades to measure their mastery of state standards in reading, language arts, math, science and social studies.

Students in the third, fifth and eighth grades must meet state reading standards in order to move on to the next grade. Fifth- and eighth-graders must also pass math tests to be promoted.

Bibb County results

At the elementary school level in Bibb County, Vineville Academy, Springdale Elementary School and Alexander II Magnet School led the way in most levels and subjects. Skyview Elementary School fourth-graders posted the highest English/language arts passing rate.

One hundred percent of Springdale Elementary’s third- and fifth-graders met or exceeded standards in the English/language arts exam, besting the state average by nearly 10 percentage points. All of Vineville Academy’s fifth-graders also passed the exam.

Additionally, Springdale Elementary third-graders excelled in reading and social studies, with more than 98 percent of students passing those exams.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, King-Danforth Elementary School third-graders posted the district’s worst performance with just half of its students passing the English/language arts exam.

Nearly half of Bruce Elementary School’s third-graders failed the reading exam, and just more than a quarter passed social studies.

Less than 20 percent of fifth-graders at Hartley Elementary School passed social studies and less than 23 percent at Williams Elementary School passed science. About a quarter of fourth-graders at Hartley Elementary passed science and social studies.

Among Bibb County middle schools, Bloomfield Middle School showed significant year-to-year variation in some areas. This year, almost 52 percent of Bloomfield’s seventh-graders met or exceeded standards on the social studies exam, while just over 26 percent did so last year. On the other hand, only 20 percent of seventh-graders at Bloomfield met or exceeded social studies standards in 2012, while 38 percent did last year.

Students at Appling Middle showed improvement this year in every grade and content area except in eighth-grade math -- with a 1.6 percentage point decrease -- according to state data.

Preliminary test results for Bibb were presented to the school board in June, and that data showed improvement in all areas for Appling Middle. The school board presentation included student retesting data in areas students need to master to move on to the next grade, while the state’s data did not.

Attempts to discuss the test results with Bibb school officials Thursday were unsuccessful.

In other midstate districts, Monroe County third-graders, even those in the individual subjects’ lowest performing schools, bested the state average in many areas, and Jones County’s Dames Ferry Elementary School topped the district’s other schools in most subjects.

Byron Elementary had the top performance among Peach County schools in several areas but still fell below the state average in many.

To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751. To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.