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Schools focus on science on 'Super Saturdays'

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County Public Schools officials are hoping to build on last year's gains on the science portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test by holding weekly remediation sessions until early November.

Earlier this month, the school system began offering "Super Saturdays," a weekly series of courses designed to help students who want to boost their chances of passing the science portion of the GHSGT, said district spokesperson Jacqueline Evans. The courses review science concepts which appear on the test.

The sessions began on Oct. 4, and the remaining sessions will be held on Oct. 18 and 25, and Nov. 1 and 8. Each session lasts from 9 a.m., to noon. The sessions take place at the Eula Wilborn Ponds Perry Center for Learning, also known as the Perry Learning Center, located at 137 Spring Street, in Jonesboro. Registration is handled at the Perry Learning Center, during the sessions.

"Clayton County Public Schools is committed to providing instruction that assists students in achieving a quality education," said Evans. "The Super Saturdays initiative was developed to provide students with an opportunity to review the curriculum and prepare for the [GHSGT]."

In addition to boosting the GHSGT science scores, the district is also looking to see if it can make gains on its graduation rates. The district had a 76.5 percent graduation rate in 2008, higher than the state average of 75.4 percent. However, one way to improve the graduation rate is to improve the GHSGT scores.

The GHSGT is a test which students are required to take during their junior year of high school. The pupils must pass all five parts of the test (English/Language Arts; Writing; Math; Science, and Social Studies) to earn a high school diploma at the end of their senior year.

The science portion of the test was altered last year to match the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), instead of the older Quality Core Curriculum (QCC). Earlier this year, the Georgia Department of Education released statistics from the 2007-08 GHSGT which showed boosts in Clayton County's passing rate, as well as the rate for the entire state.

State and local officials attributed the higher passing rates to re-aligning the test to match the GPS, but while the state saw an 8-percentage-point increase, Clayton County saw a boost of 20 points. Seventy-nine percent of Clayton County juniors passed the science portion last year. Statewide, the passing rate was 86 percent.

As a result, the school system set a goal to catch up with the state's passing rate. "We know that we still have a lot to do, if we are to equal and exceed the state's performance on this test," said Katrina Miller, the district's coordinator of secondary science.

For more information about the "Super Saturdays" sessions, contact Karlowa Dukes at (678) 817-3109.