Photo by Heather Middleton
By Jeylin White
Clayton County Public Schools' middle and elementary school students saw mostly slight-to-modest declines in their performance on last spring's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs), particularly in the key, promotional grades -- third, fifth, and eighth, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Education.
The CRCTs are standardized exams designed to show if students have mastered the content included in the state's Georgia Performance Standards curriculum. They cover five subject areas: Reading, English/language arts, math, science, and social studies.
Results of the tests play a significant role in determining whether students in the third grade, fifth grade, and eighth grade are promoted to the next grade level.
While state-level results showed that Georgia's middle and elementary students, overall, made gains in virtually every grade level -- this year over last year -- for Clayton County Public Schools, the results are not as encouraging.
In a previous statement, State School Superintendent John Barge said he was encouraged that the statewide CRCT results show that many students are mastering a more rigorous curriculum. "The credit for these tremendous results goes back to the local level, where they have raised the bar for all students," he said.
Last month, when state-level results were released, they showed a 6-percentage-point increase in the number of third-graders exceeding standards in science, over last year. They showed a 4-point increase in the number of eighth-graders in the state meeting or exceeding standards in math.
However, State DOE school system-level results for Clayton County indicate the need for improvement among eighth-graders, fifth-graders, and third-graders in most subject areas.
Data shows that 93.4 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards in reading in 2011, a nearly 3-point drop from 2010. Eighth-graders' performance in English/language arts dropped slightly, from 91 percent meeting or exceeding standards in 2010, to 90.6 percent in 2011.
In math, eighth-graders had a bigger decline. Only 68.3 percent met or exceeded standards this year, compared to 73 percent last year. Science scores also declined slightly, with 44.1 percent meeting or exceeding standards, compared to 46 percent in 2010. The lone "bright" spot was in social studies, where 53 percent met or exceeded standards this year, a slight increase over last year's 51 percent.
The county's fifth-graders showed slight-to-modest declines in every subject area tested. Their performance in reading declined by more than 8 percentage points, going from 91 percent meeting or exceeding standards in 2010, to 82.8 percent in 2011. In English/language arts, 89.3 percent met or exceeded standards, compared to 91 percent last year. In math, the percentage meeting or exceeding standards dropped by more than 4 points, from 84 percent in 2010, to 79.9 percent in 2011.
The slide continued in science and social studies, with a drop from 64 percent in science in 2010, to 60.4 percent in 2011, and a bigger decline in social studies, from 56 percent meeting or exceeding standards last year, to only 49.6 percent this year.
Meanwhile, data revealed that, while third-graders saw declines in reading, math, science and social studies, they did manage a small gain in English/language arts, with 83.9 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards, compared to 83 percent last year.
In reading, the numbers were: 85.7 percent this year; 90 percent in 2010. In math, there were 72.6 percent meeting or exceeding standards in 2011; 74 percent last year. In social studies, 68.1 percent this year; 69 percent in 2010. In science, 68.2 percent in 2011; 70 percent last year.
Clayton school officials were not available to comment on these results, according to School System Spokesman Charles White, who said, "Due to the district being out of the office on a scheduled summer break, Clayton County school officials are deferring comment until early next week."
For more district-level, or school-by-school CRCT results, visit the State Department of Education's web site at, www.doe.k12.ga.us.