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Gainesville CRCT investigation spurs a local look
School officials to hire auditors, analyst to review state report
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Gainesville city school officials will move forward with an investigation into last week’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test erasure analysis that found two system schools had an abnormally high number of erasures on last spring’s test.

The report — the first to break down erasure data by individual classrooms — was ordered by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and included data from all CRCT tests taken at the first- through eighth-grade levels. If a classroom fell more than 3 points outside of the 4 percent state average for the number of wrong-to-right answer erasures, it was flagged.

Gainesville Exploration Academy was the only school in the city system to have more than 25 percent of its classrooms flagged for having an unusually high number erasures. This placed the school in the “severe” category, which includes 73 other Georgia schools that will be investigated on a local and state level.

Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School was flagged as a “moderate” concern with 13.9 percent of its classrooms found to have an unusual number of erasures.

Superintendent Merriane Dyer said at a board meeting Wednesday evening that they will look for two independent auditors and a data analyst to review the report and submit an opinion on the findings. Dyer estimated it would cost between $3,000 and $5,000 for the audit.

Although the board will continue to cooperate with OSA guidelines for further testing, such as installing state monitors during testing at flagged schools, Dyer made clear at the meeting that she is frustrated with the organization’s handling of the results.

“It’s been very frustrating,” she told board members. “I think it speaks to the intent of the OSA that (the report) was released to the state board and the media before it was released to (superintendents).”

Dyer referenced the report of all schools’ results that OSA made public during the Feb. 10 state board of education meeting. Although superintendents with schools flagged in their districts were notified two days in advance, they were only given their own schools’ data, she said.

“We were unprepared to face the questions that were asked of us upon release (of the report),” she said.

The board plans to contract auditors independent of the state, most likely from an out-of-state university, and present the state with a report by late March.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a five-year facilities plan that calls for an estimated $49 million in repairs and construction on city schools. The plan actually accounts for seven years’ worth of projects, said Christine Brosky, director of grants and grant administration. But whether the board will receive enough money to complete them so far is unknown. Taxpayers will decide how much SPLOST funding the school district receives. The state board of education could fund up to $2.4 million but most of that would be used to pay off the $3.2 million still owed for the construction of Gainesville Middle School, Brosky said.

The plan calls for the construction of two new schools, including a replacement for the existing Fair Street school.