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School system sees growth on graduation test

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Even though the percentage of Clayton County high school juniors passing the math section of the Georgia High School Graduation Test is one percentage point lower than a year ago, school system officials said they were still pleased with how the students did.

That is because this year's results show the overall percentages of students passing in every other section of the test is up.

In the language arts section of the test, 89 percent of juniors met, or exceeded, state standards (up three percentage points from last year); while, in the science section, 84 percent of the students met, or surpassed, state goals (up four percentage points from last year), according to numbers provided by the school system on Wednesday.

The numbers show that 91 percent of the students taking the test met, or exceeded, state standards in math (down one percentage point). The data also show that 71 percent of students met, or exceeded, state standards in social studies, which is 11 points lower than last year's results, according to the State Department of Education's web site. Last year, 82 percent of Clayton's test-takers met, or exceeded, state standards in social studies.

School system Executive Director for Research, Evaluation and Assessment Chandra Johnson said the scores in the social studies section cannot be compared to previous years, however, because a new -- and more rigorous --Georgia Performance Standards-aligned version of the social studies section of the test was used this year. Officials say such drops are common, initially, whenever standards are upgraded.

"We're pleased with the results, but we'll never be satisfied until we have 100 percent of our students meeting, or exceeding, state standards on these tests," Johnson said.

Students take the graduation test during their junior year in high school, to show they have learned what the state has expected them to learn throughout their educational career. They have to meet, or exceed, state standards on the test to graduate from high school, according to Johnson. The language arts and math sections of the test also make up the academic factor used to determine if high schools make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Compared to their counterparts across the state, Clayton County juniors were just one percentage point behind the state average in language arts; four points behind in math; six percentage points in science, and seven points in social studies.

While local students still lag behind their state-wide counterparts, a deeper look at the results from the last three years show that Clayton's students are closing the gap with the rest of Georgia. Since 2008, they have gained three percentage points in language arts; one in math, and one point in science.

"I'm hoping we will overtake the state average in language arts next year," Johnson said.

The county's high schools performed as follows on the Georgia High School Graduation Test:

* Forest Park High School language arts: 84 percent met or exceeded state standards (up one percentage point); math: 89 percent (down one point); science: 86 percent (up seven points); social studies: 75 percent.

* Jonesboro High School language arts: 94 percent (up seven points); math: 92 percent (same as last year); science: 83 percent (up three points); social studies: 70 percent.

* Lovejoy High School language arts: 93 percent (up nine points); math: 92 percent (up one point); science: 88 percent (up nine points); social studies: 75 percent.

* Morrow High School language arts: 87 percent (same as last year); math: 88 percent (down four points); science: 82 percent (up three points); social studies: 64 percent.

* Mount Zion High School language arts: 90 percent (up six points); math: 93 percent (same as last year); science: 84 percent (up one point); social studies: 76 percent.

* Mundy's Mill High School language arts: 90 percent (down one point); math: 89 percent (down three points); science: 83 percent (down three points); social studies: 72 percent.

* North Clayton High School language arts: 85 percent (same as last year); math: 89 percent (down five points); science: 83 percent (up two points); social studies: 66 percent.

* Riverdale High School language arts: 88 percent (up five points); math: 93 percent (up one point); science: 86 percent (up seven points); social studies: 68 percent.