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Local schools outdo state on writing test
New standards will make writing skills a priority in Georgia classrooms
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Writing test results

School: Percent passed

Georgia: 93

Hall County

Chestatee High: 95.7

Lanier Career Academy: 70

West Hall High: 95.7

Flowery Branch High: 96.4

East Hall High: 88.6

North Hall High: 98.3

Johnson High: 94.5


Woods Mill Academy: 90

Gainesville High: 95.1

Source: Georgia Department of Education

Traditional high schools in both the Gainesville and Hall County school systems have, as a whole, outperformed the state on the Georgia High School Writing Test.

On Thursday, the Georgia Department of Education released the school-level results of the test, which students must pass to receive a diploma.

The area’s seven traditional high schools averaged a 95 percent passing rate compared to 93 percent statewide.

“Writing continues to be one of our greatest predictors of a student’s ability to be successful beyond high school, so we’re always pleased when our students do well on the writing exam,” said Will Schofield, Hall County Schools superintendent.

The percentage of county students passing the test ranged from 88.6 percent at East Hall High School to 98.3 percent at North Hall High School.

The average percentage of students passing the test at all six traditional county high schools was just shy of 95 percent.

“I’m very pleased that some of our schools are approaching 100 percent,” Schofield said.

Lanier Career Academy, a nontraditional high school in Oakwood, tested 10 students, 70 percent of whom passed.

Gainesville High School passed 95.1 percent of its students who took the test, with nearly 10 percent of those exceeding the standards.

“We are very pleased with the results from both of our high schools,” said Sarah Bell, director of standards and assessment for Gainesville City Schools.

Wood’s Mill Academy passed 90 percent of the 20 students who took the test. That, Bell said, is up 11 points from last year.

“We are especially proud with the progress at Wood’s Mill,” she said.

The writing test, school officials said, is a good barometer of student success. With changes in the state’s standards, as well as future implementation of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers test to replace the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in 2014, writing skills for students will take a greater priority.

“It certainly is a very good indication of our student’s higher-order thinking skills and for us, especially as we move toward the new (PARCC) assessment,” said Bell. “It’s a very important indicator because we know that writing will be a heavy component of that assessment.”

And writing likely is to keep improving.

Schofield said with the implementation of Common Core standards in Georgia, coupled with improved essay grading software, students will be able to get more feedback on their writing in the near future.

“The challenge is finding time and expertise to provide feedback on that writing,” he said. “It is tremendously time-consuming to provide individual feedback on student writing, but that’s where the growth occurs.”

That feedback, he said, is essential to meet the growing demand for writing and communication skills.

“I’m an old math man, but I understand the importance of writing and communications,” Schofield said.

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