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Most Hall schools outperform state on grad tests
Hall was 18th in the state, Gainesville was sixth
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Six of Hall County’s eight high schools outperformed the state in all portions of this spring’s Georgia High School Graduation Tests, according to results released Friday.

East Hall, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Johnson, North Hall and West Hall posted higher averages than the state in the English/language arts, math, science and social studies portions of the tests, which students must pass to earn a diploma.

Those schools also scored higher on average on all the tests combined, according to results.

Chestatee High in northwest Hall scored one percentage point lower than the state averages in English/language arts, science and social studies.

The school posted higher averages on the math portion and all tests combined.

Lanier Career Academy, which largely serves students who have struggled in the traditional high school setting, posted lower scores in all portions.

As a district, 96 percent of Hall’s students passed the math portion; 92 percent, English/language arts; 91 percent, science and social studies; and 85 percent of students passed all portions.

The results are for 11th-graders taking the tests for the first time.

"We were very pleased that as a system, Hall County ranked 18th in the state in (the) percent of juniors passing all four core academic areas of the (tests)," said Will Schofield, Hall’s superintendent.

Gainesville school officials released a document last week showing the city as ranking sixth in the state.

Damon Gibbs, Johnson’s principal, said he attributes his school’s success on the tests to a "great teaching staff who go above and beyond to meet the needs of our students, and the credit-recovery program ... (and) the graduation test preparation software that we have implemented."

Students who do not pass all the required tests but have met all other graduation requirements may be eligible for a certificate of performance or a special education diploma.

However, students can retake the tests until they pass and earn a regular diploma.

The state also uses the math and English/language arts portions of the tests as part of its determination of whether high schools are making "adequate yearly progress," or AYP as it is commonly known, per the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The other key criteria is the school’s graduation rate. To make AYP outright in that area, schools must have a 70 percent graduation rate this year.

East Hall High was the only area high school not to make AYP last year, slipping on its graduation rate.

Last year, schools had to have a 65 percent graduation rate to make AYP outright, and East Hall’s rate was 57.7 percent.

The percentage of students required to pass basic-skills tests for a school to make adequate progress jumps in high schools this year for the first time since 2006.

This year, 87.7 percent must pass the English/language arts portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests, compared to 84.7 percent the past two years, and 74.9 percent must pass the math portion of the graduation tests, compared to 68.6 percent the past two years.

Passing rates for students in all area high schools except Lanier Career Academy exceeded the new standards.

Last year, the academy did not have enough students "for the AYP determination to be statistically reliable," so an AYP determination was not made, according to the state Department of Education Web site.

"They will not have enough to be counted (again this year)," Schofield said of the academy.

The district doesn’t have a feel yet for AYP determinations, he added.

"Now that graduation is done, schools can start examining their data much more closely," Schofield said.

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