By Greg Gelpi
The state is narrowing the education gap in most areas of its testing of third-graders, according to reports released by the state Department of Education.
Local school systems are still awaiting the breakdown of their Criterion Referenced Competency Test results, but results show that the Clayton County school system performed below and the Henry County school system performed above the state average.
Almost 91 percent of the state's third-graders passed the reading portion of the CRCT. That is 6 percent better than when the reading portion was last given to third-graders in 2002. For the first time, third-graders who don't pass the reading portion of the test might not advance to the fourth grade.
About 87 percent of Clayton's third-graders passed the reading portion, while about 94 percent of Henry's third-graders passed.
Of the 115,219 third-graders in the state who took the test, 10,974 didn't pass the reading portion. The state had projected that 26,000 wouldn't pass the test prior to receiving the results.
"I've seen our teachers in action and talked to parents who are committed to their children's success," state Superintendent of Education Kathy Cox said in a statement. "The hard work and determination I've witnessed in classrooms across our state shines through in these impressive results. Our teachers and students certainly have something to celebrate."
The state compiled all of its demographic data from the CRCT, but the school systems are still working with raw data that doesn't have information such as test results by race.
The state narrowed the achievement gap between black students and white students who passed the reading portion as compared to the 2002 test results. In 2002, there was a 13 percentage point difference, but in 2004 there was an eight point difference.
Hispanic students closed the gap by four points.
The Limited English Proficiency students and special education students passing the reading test increased by 19 percent from 2002.
The state made progress in 31 of 36 portions of the test in all grades that were tested.
Third-graders who failed the reading portion of the CRCT have the opportunity to take summer school and retake the test. Summer school for Henry and Clayton counties begins Monday.
The Clayton County school system will have free bus service to elementary school students attending summer school at its eight summer school locations.
For more information on specific bus routes and bus stops, call the principal at the school housing the summer school.
The Henry County school system doesn't provide transportation for summer school.
If third-graders who failed the reading portion initially pass it this summer, they will advance to the fourth grade. Those who do not pass can appeal being held back in third grade.