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GHSGT science scores improve
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 Preliminary test results are in for the Georgia High School Graduation Test and things look good for Newton County, especially in the areas of science.

This year marks the first year GHSGTs are aligned with the new Georgia Performance Standards and results reflect the more rigorous material. In addition, this year's results were scored in four levels - below proficiency, basic proficiency, advanced proficiency and honors.

 While not directly comparable due to the new GPS, the county's scores dropped in English language arts from 97.7 percent in 2007 to 91 percent in 2008, but science scores rose dramatically from 70 percent pass rate last year to 86 percent this time around. Social studies scores remained unchanged at 86 percent pass rate.

 Math scores dipped slightly from 93.6 percent in to 92 percent while social studies scores remained unchanged at 86 percent pass rate.

 "I am proud of the performance of our 11th grade students on the GHSGT and especially in science," Associate Superintendent of Instruction Linda Hayden said.

 The new GPS requirements mean tougher tests and State Superintendent Kathy Cox said that the teachers have responded even if the results don't compare to 2007.

 "These exams are definitely more challenging," Cox said in a press release. "It's clear that our teachers are doing a great job delivering a more focused and engaging curriculum that sets high expectations for all students."

 Looking at the scores compared to the state averages, Newton County's high schools fared well. They remained on par with the State as each of the county's scores mirrored the overall averages in everything except ELA where the county scored a percentage point higher overall at 91.

 A look at each high school shows that all three showed significant improvement. Of the students tested, Newton High School had a passing rate of 70 percent this year, up from 64.6 percent in 2007 while Alcovy High jumped from 71.4 percent in 2007 to 76 percent this year. Eastside High led the way with an 87 percent passing rate this year versus a 74.2 percent in 2007.

 The results are pending certification and are not official until the data is finalized and signed off by Cox's office. The results are a portion of the information gathered for the Annual Yearly Progress Report which comes out later this year.

 Overall it's clear that Newton County high schools are making strides to improve overall scores and it seems unlikely the system would find itself on the needs improvement list.

 In addition, the Sate released the overall results for the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests June 10 and preliminary reports show that the scores have improved in reading, grade 7 science and grade 7 math. Complete data including system-by-system results are due out no later than June 24 while individual school performance numbers should be available no later than July 9.

 Early indications look good for the system. And while district officials are busy preparing the 2008-09 budget and making preparations for the upcoming school year, a good test performance will give the district momentum going into fall.

 "Our teachers have worked very hard to implement the new Georgia Performance Standards," added Hayden. "I want to thank the teachers, administrators and students for all of their hard work."