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Most Hall schools score well on graduation tests
Test being phased out by education board
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Chestatee High School

  • English: 92
  • Math: 91
  • Science: 95
  • Social studies: 79
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 72.7

East Hall High School

  • English: 95
  • Math: 96
  • Science: 98
  • Social studies: 85
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 82

Flowery Branch High School

  • English: 96
  • Math: 92
  • Science: 98
  • Social studies: 86
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 81.6

Johnson High School

  • English: 91
  • Math: 87
  • Science: 94
  • Social studies: 86
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 77.8

North Hall High School

  • English: 97
  • Math: 94
  • Science: 99
  • Social studies: 91
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 86.9

West Hall High School

  • English: 94
  • Math: 85
  • Science: 98
  • Social studies: 81
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 73.8

Lanier Charter Career Academy

  • English: 83
  • Math: 64
  • Science: 76
  • Social studies: 69
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 66.7

Gainesville High School

  • English: 96
  • Math: 91
  • Science: 96
  • Social studies: 92
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 87.7

Statewide

  • English: 91
  • Math: 84
  • Science: 93
  • Social studies: 80
  • Percent of students passing all portions: 73.7

Scores released Monday show that most Hall County schools fared better than the state on graduation tests this year.

The state's average pass rate for first-time test takers of the Georgia High School Graduation Test was 73.7 percent. Only Chestatee High School and Lanier Charter Career Academy fell below the state numbers, with overall passing rates of 72.7 and 66.7, respectively.

Three of the six traditional high schools, East Hall, West Hall and North Hall, posted gains over last year.

East Hall had the biggest jump, with an overall pass rate of 82 percent in 2011, up from 67.4 percent in 2010.

Principal Jeff Cooper attributed the change to
students having increased interaction time with teachers this year than they have in the past.

"Our teachers are working hard," said Wayne Colston, Hall County Schools Board testing coordinator. "They're not teaching the test, but they're focusing on what kids should learn under Georgia standards."

The other three traditional high schools — Chestatee, Flowery Branch and Johnson — however, had lower overall pass rates than in 2010.

"We're still evaluating test scores," Chestatee Principal Chip Underwood said. "We're not very happy with the way things turned out."

Underwood said it was difficult to improve test scores given the fine line between graduation test preparation time and instruction time.

"You can study eight hours a day for the graduation test for two weeks, and yeah, your scores will improve," he said. "But then you've lost two weeks of time to learn new material."

Colston said he was unsure of the amount of Hall County students re-taking the tests in 2011 but said students who did not pass were encouraged to do so.

Hall County principals and administrators will further analyze the scores and improvement strategies at a leadership retreat June 20-21.

In the Gainesville City Schools system, Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said Gainesville High School improved most in the social studies area.

In 2010, Gainesville High had an 83 percent pass rate for social studies. That jumped to 92 percent in 2011.

No data was available for Wood's Mill High School as the state only evaluates scores for schools where 10 or more students take the exam.

"We're working not only in the high schools but also in middle and elementary schools to make sure everything is up to standards," Dyer said.

Dyer said Gainesville students can come in before school or during a study period for graduation test preparation. Students can also participate in the "blitz" tutoring that takes place two weeks prior to the test.

The graduation test is being phased out as part of a State Board of Education rule amendment made in April. All Georgia students who entered high school between fall 2008 and June 2011 are required to pass the test in order to graduate, but those who enter ninth grade starting this fall will not have to take the test.

Instead, they will have to take the Georgia High School Writing Test and pass one of the two equivalent End of Course Tests in the content areas corresponding to the portions of the graduation test.

"Approximately 34 students were re-taking a portion of the test," Dyer said. "Some of these students are taking it again to get the enhanced 516."

Dyer said in order for students to be counted as a graduate in Georgia, they must score a cumulative 500 on the test. However, in order to be counted federally for the school's Adequate Yearly Progress, the student must score a 516.

That can lead to challenges for the school systems.

"The school will be penalized if they do not score a 516," she said. "We require them to come back (and re-take the test). But once they're graduated, we really have no position to mandate them to do so."

 

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