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Summer school is costly to provide
More students attended after failing CRCT
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New versions of state math, science and social studies Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests sent thousands of failing Georgia students back for 20 more days of school this summer.

Roughly 1,400 Hall County students attended summer school in June — about twice as many as last summer, according to Gerald Boyd, Hall County school improvement specialist.

The spike in summer school students also cost the county system a pretty penny.

Lee Lovett, an accountant for Hall County schools, said the increase in students required to attend summer school as a result of failing the CRCT this spring cost the school system about $466,473 in summer teachers’ salaries alone, which is $82,000 more than last year.

Will Campbell, interim principal of Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School and Gainesville city schools’ summer school principal, said about 200 city system students attended summer school in June. Campbell said there was not a sharp increase in summer school students this year as compared to last.

"If we did have more, it wasn’t a lot more," he said.

Campbell said he credits the city system’s steady summer school enrollment numbers to its practice of pre- and post-testing students every quarter to gauge which elements of the state curriculum they did and did not learn. With time remaining in the school year, teachers were able to target students’ problem areas before the spring CRCT.

Third-graders who do not pass the reading CRCT are not promoted to the fourth grade, and fifth- and eighth-graders who do not pass both the reading and math CRCT also are denied promotion, according to the state Department of Education.

Students in first through eighth grades take the state CRCT. Students in third, fifth and eighth grade who do not pass the required CRCT portions must attend summer school.

In April, some students took new CRCT that were aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards, which are academic standards the state Department of Education expects all Georgia students to meet.

The new CRCT were given in mathematics to grades three through five and to eighth-graders. There were also new science and social studies CRCT administered to eighth-graders and new social studies CRCT administered to sixth- and seventh-graders.

"We have a new curriculum in mathematics, and we have new tests in mathematics, and about 40 percent of the students in the state did not pass those tests," Boyd said. "We’re not just talking about Hall County. This is a phenomenon statewide."

According to the state Department of Education, 72 percent of fifth-graders and 62 percent of eighth-graders statewide passed the new mathematics CRCT. About 60 percent of eighth-graders passed the new science CRCT.

After spending 18 days at summer school in which teachers focused instruction on specific subjects students failed on the April CRCT, Hall County school students took retests on June 19 and 20. Gainesville city school students took retests on June 25 and 26.

Boyd said about 50 percent of county summer students passed the retest. Campbell said the city has yet to see all summer students’ retest scores, but said the majority of third-graders in summer school passed the retest.

Boyd said county teachers really concentrated on the domains with which students had trouble, such as fifth-graders having trouble with measurement and eighth-graders having trouble with algebra.

"We really did get down to the student level," he said. "Considering everybody in summer school has already failed once, we were pleased with the passing rate."