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With Thursday’s release of school-level Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores, administrators have been able to get a better idea of where changes may need to be made.
Out of 26 elementary schools in the combined Hall County and Gainesville City Schools systems, in all but one instance, at least 50 percent of students met or exceeded standards on the reading and English-language arts portions of the test.
The only exception was the Lyman Elementary School first-graders — 71.3 percent of those students met or exceeded standards on the reading portion, but only 45.2 percent met the same criteria for English-language arts.
Whereas the elementary students performed well on those areas of the test, the social studies section proved to be a challenge for fifth-grade students. At least half of the students at 12 out of 26 schools did not meet those standards.
"We had a handful of areas that under performed. We have already made some personnel changes in those areas and have planned for some professional learning and support for the individuals and/or subjects involved," said Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools.
On a middle school level, the majority of students at least met math standards, but there were schools — such as West Hall Middle School — where around 30 percent of students did not pass that portion of the CRCT.
The CRCT is administered every spring to first-grade through eighth-grade students as a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Legislation. Student performance on the standardized test is one of the factors used to determine if a school has made Adequate Yearly Progress. If schools fail to make AYP, they face a series of escalating consequences — including having state officials step in to run individual schools.
"The CRCT is just one piece of how we measure our progress. We measure the participation in project-based learning, how students can apply knowledge, use technology, communicate effectively — not just that one test," said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville schools superintendent.
"However, we do recognize that our school system is evaluated for federal requirements for the tests."
Although these most recent scores have given schools an idea of how students performed on the CRCT, there is still an opportunity for scores to improve. Students are allowed to retake portions of the test that they did not pass and those scores have not been added in yet.
System officials are planning to use this data to determine how staff reductions necessitated by reduced state funding is affecting student learning.
"We are analyzing the impact of fewer teachers and less support service, particularly for (English-language learners)," said Dyer.
"We are looking at whole new frameworks of service — how to leverage program service together but we know that there are more budget challenges ahead."