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Clayton equals state on writing test

JONESBORO — Clayton County students passed the eighth-grade writing assessment at a rate of 82 percent, matching the state average.

The school district’s special education subgroups were attached to its average showing, according to testing data released this month.

Elite Scholars Academy and Morrow Middle were top performers in the district. Every student who tested at Elite Scholars passed with 15 percent, exceeding state writing standards. About 89 percent of all test-takers at Morrow Middle passed with 7 percent, exceeding standards.

Others schools fell below the state average.

At Forest Park Middle, 72 percent of test-takers passed. The performance was partly due to a poor showing from the school’s special education students in which 78 percent did not pass, contrasted with the 80 percent of regular education pupils who did.

Forest Park Middle had 90 percent of its eighth-graders meeting state writing standards just two years ago. Jonesboro Middle, too, saw a steep drop-off from 2011, when 89 percent passed.

This year, 75 percent of all test-takers at Jonesboro Middle passed — 68 percent of special education students failed compared to 81 percent of passing regular education students.

Schools spokesman David Waller said district officials and teachers have been working on improving pass rates among special education students.

“I think school districts across the country see the trends of lower scores in that [special education] population,” said Waller. “We work with those students one-on-one. We’re always trying to find new ways and strategies to help them, and we’ve met that with some success.”

Waller said the district has made a practice of incorporating writing into all of its subjects, from the hard sciences to fine arts.

“Over the past few years, we’ve really begun to emphasize to teachers who specialize in different subject matter to brush up on their writing,” he said. “Writing across the curriculum is a big push for us and it has been for the past few years. We have students do more writing in math, science, and career and technology courses.”