State basic-skills tests results Tuesday confirmed what officials had reported earlier — 38 percent of eighth-graders failed the math test, which represents nearly 50,000 students.
The Georgia Department of Education released official statewide results of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, with plans to release district numbers no later than June 24 and school results by July 9.
The state’s data show that students performed poorly in subjects where there was a harder curriculum and tougher test this year. But scores did improve in many areas where students had taken two or more years of the new curriculum.
"For a lot of parents, they didn’t have that success story this year in terms of success on the CRCT. I know there was disappointment," state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said Tuesday after releasing the scores.
"But if they look at other areas of student performance, they’ll see their child is doing well."
The test results based on the harder curriculum "give us a new, realistic baseline to work from," Cox said.
"We are holding our students to a higher standard so that when they get their diploma it will mean they are truly ready for the demands of the 21st century."
She said she believes if the state doesn’t raise standards, "we are doing a disservice to our students and our state."
Despite those improvements, some parents are still angry that the state had to throw out sixth- and seventh-grade social studies scores after realizing the test didn’t match what students were taught.
The state estimates that 70 percent to 80 percent of sixth- and seventh-graders failed the social studies test this year.
Students in third, fifth and eighth grades must pass the CRCT’s reading exam for promotion. Students in fifth and eighth grades must pass the math and reading portions.
Summer school, which started last week, is bustling this year as, following a statewide trend, the number of Gainesville and Hall County students failing the math portion of the state’s basic-skills test more than doubled from last year.
This year, 630 fifth-graders and 740 eighth-graders in the Hall County school system failed the math portion of the test, compared to 332 fifth-graders and 335 eighth-graders last year.
And 147 fifth-graders and 154 eighth-graders in the Gainesville system failed the math portion of the test, compared to 58 fifth-graders and 68 eighth-graders last year.
Summer school is optional although advised, as these students must pass a CRCT retest if they want a clear path to the next grade.
Those who fail the retest can still get to the next grade but only after an appeal to the principal.
In the Gainesville school system, summer school for third- and fifth-graders is set to end June 27 at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, and for eighth-graders, it will end June 27 at Gainesville Middle School.
Retests are set for June 25-26, with a June 27 makeup day.
In the Hall system, summer school is taking place at various elementary cluster sites throughout the district and at all middle schools.
Summer school is set to end June 20 with retests scheduled for June 19 (math) and June 20 (reading).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.