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State boasts gains on graduation test

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Georgia high school juniors made some headway on the state's graduation test this year, as the number of students passing the English/Language Arts, science and social studies sections of the test went up, the Georgia Department of Education has announced.

The state released the 2011 statewide results from the Georgia High School Graduation Test, also known in education circles as the GHSGT, on Thursday. The data shows that more than 90 percent of students in Georgia passed the sections dealing with English-Language Arts (91 percent, up one percentage point from last year), and science (93 percent, up three points).

The number of students passing the social studies section of the test went up two percentage points, to 80 percent, this year.

"The results of the 2011 GHSGT are very encouraging," said State School Superintendent John Barge, in a written statement. "These scores give us a good indicator that students and teachers continue to rise to the challenge of a more rigorous curriculum."

The Georgia Department of Education announced system-level results from the test are scheduled to be released to the public at a later date, at least by May 26, while school-level results are expected to be released by June 9.

System-level results were not immediately available Thursday from school system officials in Clayton and Henry counties.

The graduation test is important to schools because the number of students passing the English/Language Arts and mathematics sections of the test are used by the state's education department, to determine if a school makes Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Schools must make AYP as a requirement of the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act.

Over the next few years, however, the state will prepare to phase out the graduation test, in favor of using End-of-Course Tests as the new academic measure for AYP.

While scores are up in three out of four sections of the test, there was a dip on the math section, from 91 percent last year, to 84 percent this year, as the state switched from a Quality Core Curriculum-based math section on the exam, to a Georgia Performance Standards-based section.

In a news release, Georgia Department of Education officials said they expected a drop to take place in math because of the changes to the test.

"We expected a decline in results for the math portion of the GHSGT, but based on feedback from school districts, we anticipated a more dramatic decline," Barge said.