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Clayton boasts gains on writing assessment

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The number of Clayton County fifth-graders who are meeting or exceeding state writing standards has gone up by 10 percentage points since 2007, figures provided by the school system show.

According to data released recently, 75 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded standards on the state's fifth-grade writing assessment test, which is up from 65 percent in 2007. Statewide, 79 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded writing standards this year.

From 2010, to 2011, the number of Clayton students reaching or surpassing state standards has gone up by nine percentage points, fueled largely by gains at 27 of the district's 36 elementary schools.

Superintendent Edmond Heatley, in a written statement, praised students, teachers and other English/Language arts instruction staff members for their "dedication" and "working hard."

"It is through this kind of commitment that we, as a district, will succeed in preparing our students to face the future," Heatley said. "These results validate our statement that 'GREAT' things are happening in Clayton County Public Schools."

The school system's data shows that Clayton students have narrowed the gap with their statewide counterparts to 4 percentage points, down from a 5-point gap in 2007.

Clayton County's gains mirror similar gains the district made earlier this year on the eighth-grade writing assessment, in which 85 percent of students met or exceeded state standards. That is up from 77 percent in 2010.

In March, when the eighth-grade writing assessment results were released, School System Language Arts Coordinator Ebony Thomas said the district spent this school year working across all grade-levels to implement new strategies to improve students' writing.

One such step was to implement a writer's workshop training program last summer for teachers of fourth-, fifth-, seventh-, eighth-, tenth- and eleventh-graders, to make sure educators are in sync with each other in teaching students to write. Professional development programs were also introduced for teachers, and students were brought into the process of assessing their writing.

The biggest gain in the county, on the fifth-grade writing assessment, was seen at Church Street Elementary School, in Riverdale, whose score went up 27 percentage points to 74 percent meeting, or exceeding the standard. Church Street was closely followed by another northwest Clayton County school, Northcutt Elementary, in College Park, whose results went up 26 points, to 74 percent meeting, or exceeding the state's mark.

Other gains in the county were seen at Kemp Elementary School (72 percent meeting, or exceeding, up by 21 points); River's Edge Elementary (88 percent, up 17 points); Huie Elementary (71 percent, up 16 points); Haynie Elementary (78 percent, up 15 points); Riverdale Elementary (69 percent, up 15 points); Tara Elementary (68 percent, up 15 points); Thurgood Marshall Elementary (79 percent, up 14 points); Kilpatrick Elementary (87 percent, up 13 points); Callaway Elementary (72 percent, up 12 points); James A. Jackson Elementary (81 percent, up 11 points); Anderson Elementary (76 percent, up 11 points); Brown Elementary (78 percent, up 10 points); Mt. Zion Elementary (87 percent, up 9 points); E.W. Oliver Elementary (84 percent, up 9 points); Pointe South Elementary (75 percent, up 8 points); Fountain Elementary (62 percent, up 8 points); E.J. Swint Elementary (77 percent, up 7 points); Hawthorne Elementary (70 percent, up 7 points); Suder Elementary (75 percent, up 6 points); East Clayton Elementary (68 percent, up six points); Lake City Elementary (80 percent, up 5 points); Harper Elementary (67 percent, up 5 points); Lake Ridge Elementary (67 percent, up 4 points); McGarrah Elementary (84 percent, up 3 points), and Smith Elementary (80 percent, up 3 points).

There were decreases at: West Clayton Elementary (42 percent, down 10 points); Morrow Elementary (74 percent, down 7 points); Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (68 percent, down 7 points); Hendrix Drive Elementary (71 percent, down 6 points); Lee Street Elementary (69 percent, down five points); Edmond Elementary (75 percent, down 3 points), and J.W. Arnold Elementary (88 percent, down 1 point).

The Unidos Dual Language Charter School, in its first year of having a fifth-grade, had a passing rate of 81 percent, while the Eddie J. White K-8 Academy, in its first year, had a 65 percent passing rate.

Arnold Elementary's and River's Edge Elementary's passing rates were the highest in the county.