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Hall County students improve in national test scores
Official: Gain is small, but its heading in the right direction
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Hall County students saw slight improvement on a national standardized test this year.

Most scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills were up one to four percentage points, except those in third-grade English/language arts, which dropped by one percentage point.

The 2010 scores, given as national percentile ranks, range from 45 to 77, meaning, for example, that Hall County eighth-graders did better than 45 percent of other schools across the country in reading. The multiple-choice test measures reading, math and language arts skills.

"It's not a lot of gain, but we're moving in the right direction," said Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

She credited the Singapore Math program, a curriculum implemented in recent years, for the slight rise in math scores. The program focuses on presenting math on a visual level before moving to the abstract level.

Due to decreased state funding this year, the system scaled back on how many students took the test, limiting it to those in third, fifth and eighth grades.

"This was our first time paying for the test as a system," Barron said.

She said Hall County aimed to continue the test because it gives the district a snapshot of how students fare nationally.

"We want this information for our own self-improvement," Barron said.

Gainesville City Schools elected not to participate in the 2010 test due to the lack of funding.

"We decided to use our funding for other priorities such as staff," Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.

Dyer said the Gainesville system has not ruled out the test for the future.

"We would like to resume the test in the future, but we need to look at the budget for next year and see what's possible," Dyer said.

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