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Hall, Gainesville students beat state average on grad test

POSTED: May 12, 2009 10:56 p.m.

Hall County and Gainesville high school juniors surpassed the state average on the Georgia High School Graduation Test.

The test was administered to first-time juniors this March and 84 percent of 1,223 Hall County students passed the test compared to 80 percent statewide, according to Hall County administrators. Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said 86 percent of 232 Gainesville students passed the test.

Cindy Blakley, director of secondary education for Hall County schools, said students must pass the test to graduate from high school. She said they have five opportunities in their junior and senior years to pass all five portions of the test. Students are tested in mathematics, English, science, social studies and writing.

Blakley said the test is high stakes for students and for school districts. The test is a measurement of high schools’ Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

"For our AYP purposes we need students to score pretty high for them to be considered passing for accountability," she said. "It’s pretty big for the state for accountability."

Blakley said the test particularly is challenging for English language
learners who struggle with the language component on all areas of the test, including word problems in the math section.

As Hall County and Gainesville surpassed the state average on the graduation test, the state also increased its average passing rate this year from 79 percent to 80 percent.

Hall County and Gainesville school systems surpassed the state average on each portion of the test.

Dyer said the Gainesville system was thrilled to learn it had a 100 percent passing rate on the mathematics portion of the test. The state average for the math portion was 94 percent this year and 92 percent last year. Ninety-seven percent of Hall County students passed the math test.

"We are just so excited," she said. "We’ve been working so hard. We’ve worked on math to make sure we have a good sequence on math (courses) so we’re sending students to high school well-prepared. It appears that we’ve been preparing them better."



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