Both area school systems saw modest improvements when the state released the CRCT scores on Tuesday for the 2012-13 school year.
The Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, administered to students in third through eighth grades, evaluates performance in five categories: reading, English language arts, math, science and social studies. The CRCT is also used as part of the calculations for school performance on the College and Career Ready Performance Index.
At Gainesville City Schools, test results showed the biggest increase in social studies, up 6 percent from last school year in students meeting or exceeding the state standard, according to Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction for the school system.
“With the change from the Adequate Yearly Process accountability to the CCRPI accountability ... AYP focused on math, language arts and reading,” he said. “Our board and our leaders were quick to transition, recognizing that science and social studies were of equal importance, and so that focus on science and social studies as equally important to the other three content areas has been on the forefront for a while in our district. And we’re seeing the dividends in that.”
Scores in science, Moore said, were up 1 percent from last year.
The Hall County system stayed pretty similar to last year, with most grades meeting or exceeding standards. The greatest increase was shown in sixth- and seventh-grade math pass rates, which were both above the state average by around 4 percentage points.
The elementary levels were slightly below the state numbers this year.
“The state made even more gains than we did at the elementary level, especially in mathematics,” said Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “To give a little bit of thought as to why that might have happened, we have had three major initiatives that we have been looking at this year ... and for that reason, teachers have had a lot on their plates.”
Reading and social studies scores increased in all grade levels for Hall County schools, Barron said.
Hall County sixth-grade students surpassed the state in all five tests in meeting or exceeding standards.
Gainesville did see a slight dip in English language arts of 1 percent from last year, and remained below many of the state percentages compared to students meeting or exceeding standards, though the difference was slight in most instances.
“It’s certainly something that we’re going to continue to keep our eyes on,” said Sarah Bell, director of academic programs and standards with Gainesville. “I think that something important to note about these scores is that our eighth-graders were extremely close to the state target in almost every area.
“So one thing we want to study more is to look at our previous scores, and see if perhaps it is because our students are taking a little bit more time to master material, but that ultimately by the time they’re ready to go to high school, they are performing at a level that meets the state target and show that they’re ready to move on,” she continued.
Representatives from both school systems said that, while the CRCT results are important, they are also concerned with evaluating the growth of a student, another factor in determining success.
“We will be receiving in the coming weeks, with the new accountability system, another piece that analyzes how much a student has grown from year to year,” Bell said.
This student growth percentile is yet another factor that calculates into the CCRPI, as well as helping to measure teacher effectiveness.
It is determined by measuring a student’s performance on a test compared to two previous years, if that data is available. The student is then compared to peers performing in “a similar manner,” Bell explained.
For the recently released results, overall the school systems are pleased, especially with the recent changes being implemented.
“The state has begun to revamp the CRCT,” Barron said, “and ... some of those problems are more depth-of-knowledge kinds of questions, and expecting kids to be able to apply what they learned.”
Complete CRCT scores, including those of other school systems and the overall state results, are available on the Department of Education’s website, www.doe.k12.ga.us/Pages/Home.aspx.