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Early peek at CRCT scores shows progress
County, city school chiefs expect full test data shortly
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Check out the state Department of Education Web site for more information on CRCT scores.

As Georgia educators begin to analyze preliminary district level Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores, Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield and Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said they are pleased with what they’ve seen so far.

The superintendents said they will know more about how the districts performed within the next week or so and how each school performed by early July.

"We go through a two-to-three-week period, which is what we’re in right now, where we send records back and forth to the state, cleaning them up and they help certify them and they actually ask us not to post them until they become official, which we expect to happen in the next several days," Schofield said.

He said the state works with school officials to synchronize the data to most accurately reflect the scores of students over the full academic year.

Schofield said he is excited that Hall County scores improved for nearly all grade levels in reading and math.

"The schools have done really well," he said. "It was just three years ago one-third of our schools were not making (Adequate Yearly Progress) and I think we’ll have a big percent of them making it this year. You’ve got to celebrate that improvement; people have worked hard."

Dyer said preliminary data shows Gainesville schools also performed well.

"We’re pleased with the results we see so far," she said. "We’re particularly combing through Gainesville Middle School’s data."

Last year, Gainesville Middle did not meet AYP.

The state’s standardized CRCT is administered to elementary and middle school students and is a yardstick by which academic progress is measured under national No Child Left Behind standards. The high stakes test can determine how much funding a school gets from the federal government and can dictate required improvements for schools who fail to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress standard as defined by the federal act.

Third-graders must pass the reading CRCT, and fifth- and eighth-graders must pass both the reading and math tests to advance to the next grade.

Test scores statewide show a marked improvement over last year. This year marks the first questions on the test are aligned with the state curriculum and lessons students are taught in class.

Last summer, Georgia educators were dismayed to find nearly 40 percent of eighth-graders failed the CRCT math portion on the first try. This year, 70 percent of eighth-graders passed the math exam.

As the high stakes test scores trickle in, superintendents and school board members from all over the state flocked to the three-day Georgia School Board Association conference in Savannah, which ends today.

Schofield and the five members of the Hall County school board attended.

Hall County school board Chairman Richard Higgins said the board will evaluate Schofield’s job performance while at the conference.

"We’ll give him a good review because everybody thinks he’s done a good job," Higgins said.

Higgins said at the conference the superintendent and board members also will receive legislative updates on the education budget and discuss the school system’s "road map" for the next school year, including Hall County’s plan to become an Investing in Educational Excellence (IE2) system.

Schofield said many educators came to the conference this year to hear state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox and others shed some light on the state’s ongoing budget problems and its effect on education.

"With all the economic challenges going on a lot of people have come down to try to garner some common wisdom about how to handle the current climate," he said.

While Hall County’s board members made the trek to Savannah, the Gainesville superintendent and school board members stayed put to save the system money on conference fees, mileage costs and hotel expenses.

"Most school boards are encouraged to go as a group and attend all of the training sessions and have discussion and dialogue, and quite often, the board will do the superintendent’s evaluation," Dyer said. "Gainesville used to do that, but last year we did not go in the middle of the budget drama, and this year we’ve decided not to go because we’ve cut that travel from our budget."

Dyer said the board has already completed its school board training during several one-day sessions closer to Gainesville.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.