531 students could be held in third grade

By Greg Gelpi

More than 13 percent of Clayton County's third-graders will be in schools, rather than pools this summer.

Clayton County Public Schools released the results of the reading portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, showing that 531 third-graders failed.

For the first time, third-graders who fail to pass the reading portion of the test won't be allowed to advance to the fourth grade.

The school system released the third grade reading results by school, but is waiting on the results by subgroup.

"We're in the middle now of doing deep analysis," said Sam King, the assistant superintendent of support services and continuous improvements.

The school system is awaiting the state test results to take a deeper look at the numbers, Coordinator of Student Assessment Ray Blakely said. The disaggregated data will break the test results into limited English proficiency students, ethnicity by black, white, Hispanic and Asian, special needs students and economically disadvantaged students.

"There's no discernable pattern (to the results)," Blakely said of the results the school system does have.

Oliver Elementary School had only five students or 4 percent of its 125 third-graders fail the reading portion. The worst test results were at Kilpatrick Elementary School where 35, more than 30 percent, of its 114 third-graders failed the reading part.

"Obviously the state feels it's a valid test because the state considers it the high stakes test," King said.

The Clayton County Board of Education Curriculum and Instruction Committee will review the CRCT reading results for third graders at 6:30 tonight at the Administrative Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro.

Artansa Snell, the chairwoman of the Clayton County chapter of the NAACP, previously said that the school system must do more than simply identify poor test results.

"They did better than I thought, but they are still surprising behind surrounding counties," she said.

Snell called for the school system to take specific actions to solve the problem, make measurable goals and objectives and involve the community in raising test scores.

Although this is the first year that there are penalties for not making standards on the CRCT, next year fifth-graders will also have to pass the test in order to advance to sixth grade.

Third grade students not passing the reading portion can take summer school and retake the test at the end of the summer. If the students pass, they will be able to advance to the fourth grade. If they don't pass, they can appeal the decision to a committee of school officials.