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Improving test scores fail to keep pace with state gains
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Local elementary schools performed below the state average on 2014 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, while local middle schools had mixed results.

Both Hall County and Gainesville city schools had significant changes in some areas on the standardized tests.

Scores were released Wednesday for the CRCT, which evaluates performance in reading, English/language arts, math, science, and social studies for grades 3 through 8.

Gainesville city schools scored at or below the state average in every category except sixth-grade social studies, but improved on 2013 scores in a number of categories. Third- and sixth-grade scores were improved in every category. The most marked improvements were in sixth-grade math, in which 9.1 percent more students met or exceeded expectations than last year, and third-grade math, which improved by 8.2 percent. There were also some areas in which performance was significantly lower than in 2013, including fourth-grade math, which declined by 16.3 percent, and seventh-grade science, which declined by 7.8 percent. Seventh-grade scores were lower than last year in every category tested.

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said in a written statement the test scores do not take into account changes in student populations. She said students who have been consistently.

enrolled in Gainesville schools generally met or exceeded expectations on the state test. However, she said many students have not been continuously enrolled, and Gainesville City Schools has taken on a large number of students who have not previously been educated in the United States.

“During this school year, we have been particularly challenged by the children entering our schools in refugee status,” she said. “(We) have experienced a large influx of children who are sent to live with sponsors or family members after being detained while crossing the border from Mexico. These children are from Central American countries and most only have a grade two or three educational level. Most of these children speak a Mayan dialect only.”

She said Gainesville City Schools has asked the Georgia Department of Education to consider the number of students in refugee status on future accountability reports.

In the Hall County system, scores were at or below the state average for third through fifth grades, but at or above the state average for sixth through eighth grades. Scores were improved for every category in third, fifth, and eighth grades, and for more than half of the categories for fourth, sixth, and seventh grades. The sharpest drop was in fourth-grade math, which fell by 9.7 percent. All other

decreases in scores were by less than 5 percent. Scores were up more than 10 percent in eighth- and fifth-grade science, and more than 8 percent in fifth-grade social studies.

Hall County Schools spokesman Kevin Bales said, “Overall, we are quite pleased with this year’s CRCT results. We made significant gains when comparing our performance to previous years and when comparing this year’s growth rate to the state’s growth rate. We do so much more in our school system than simply prepare students for standardized tests, but it is always rewarding to see results that reflect the hard work of your students and teachers.”