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Clayton County test scores fall

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County ranks below the state average in all areas of the 2004 Georgia High School Graduation Test.

The state Department of Education released the test scores of this year's test Thursday. The Clayton County public school system's scores dropped in all categories, but one in which it remained the same, as compared to the 2003 results.

Clayton County dropped six points in the science portion of the test, while slipping two points in English and language arts and one point in social studies. The county made no change in math.

The state as a whole did better in math and social studies by one point in each section, while sliding one point in both science and English and language arts.

Jonesboro High, Morrow High and North Clayton High scored lower in every section of the test.

Only 58 percent of Clayton County students passed the science portion of the test.

Forest Park High and Lovejoy High improved in three areas each. Lovejoy remained the same in English and language arts, while Forest Park scored a point lower in the same category.

Lovejoy led the county with 98 percent passing the English and language arts section. The school also led with 96 percent passing math and 89 percent passing social studies. Tied for second in the county, 71 percent of Lovejoy High passed the science section.

On the other end of the results, North Clayton was last in the county in three of the four categories, as only 71 percent passed the social studies portion and 43 percent passed the science portion.

Mundy's Mill High, which opened two years ago, didn't take the Georgia High School Graduation Test in 2003.

"It just shows that we really have to go to work to get test scores up," Sid Chapman, the president of the Clayton County Education Association, said. "I think the average high school student should be able to pass. I think it's a valid test."

One factor in the decrease in test scores is the departure of quality teachers from Clayton County, Chapman said.

"I'm disappointed and would like to see it go in the other direction," he said.

With 96 percent of the state passing the English and language arts, the state fell one point below the record set in 2002. The 95 percent that passed the math portion is a record, up one point last year's high. The state matched the record for social studies as 85 percent passed. The 71 percent passing the science portion is one point below the 2003 average.

"It is the goal of the Georgia Department of Education to have our state lead the nation in improving student achievement," the state said in a press release. "Our state's teachers are working hard to make the goal a reality, but it is difficult to do without a useable state curriculum that provides the foundation for their work in the classroom."

The state department said the "stagnation of the GHSGT results speaks about the need for Georgia to make dramatic changes to its education system, the most important of which is the implementation of the newly revised Georgia Performance Standards curriculum."

Students must pass the test in order to graduate. The test scores will be used in determining which schools make Adequate Yearly Progress for the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Juniors and seniors take the Georgia High School Graduation Test.