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Posted: July 11, 2013 8:12 a.m.

GA students struggle in algebra, improve elsewhere

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia students earned higher scores on many end-of-course exams this year than in 2012, but more than 60 percent failed to meet state standards in algebra, according to results released Wednesday by the state Department of Education.

About 63 percent of students who took the algebra test this spring failed to meet state standards. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/1307oxp) some metro Atlanta districts saw failure rates of nearly 78 percent.

Students recorded improvements since last year in mathematics II, geometry, ninth-grade literature and composition, American literature and composition, biology, physical science, U.S. history and economics.

Despite the improvements in other areas, students' algebra scores drew criticism from Gov. Nathan Deal.

"These scores are unacceptable and are evidence that we have much work to do," Deal told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Our new standards are more rigorous, and these scores give a more accurate picture of whether our students are truly ready for college and careers when they graduate from high school."

Department of Education Chief Academic Officer Mike Buck said the department is going to make a better effort to offer teachers more math instruction training.

"While we are pleased that our students' performance in most content areas and in most grade levels continues to improve, we recognize that overall math scores tend to trail other content areas," Buck told the newspaper. "The content is obviously very rigorous, and students are being asked to apply critical thinking skills to more complex material."

Georgia is one of 45 states to adopt a new set of national standards called Common Core and state education officials warned last year that algebra scores would be low because the course material was new for both students and teachers.

Cobb County school board Chairman Randy Scamihorn questions the accuracy and fairness of the exam.

"Is it really a valid test?" he asked. "We have designed tests in the past and had to throw out the results because questions weren't valid or because of other problems."

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