Rockdale County Public Schools students' scores increased and outperformed students in the metro-Atlanta area and the state on the latest results of the Georgia High School Writing Test.

The RCPS district average rose to 97 percent of students meeting and exceeding on the writing assessment. That’s higher than both the metro-Atlanta average of 96 percent and the state average of 95 percent.

Individual school scores are: Salem High School - 97 percent, Heritage High School - 97 percent and Rockdale County High School - 96 percent.

In addition, the Rockdale's Students with Disabilities jumped to 71 percent and the English Languages Learners (ELL) subgroup reached a perfect 100 percent, up from 83 percent last year.

“I congratulate our classroom teachers in all subjects who support our interdisciplinary approach to teaching writing,” said Rockdale Superintendent Richard Autry. “Our students continue to demonstrate strong writing skills as evidenced by these impressive results at each of our high schools. These results affirm our K-12 focus on quality writing instruction with the understanding that written expression is a key trait desired by employers and colleges alike. I am proud of the accomplishments of our students and predict they will benefit from these results well beyond high school.”

The GHSWT scores reflect 11th grade first-time test takers who took the exam in late September.

In neighboring Newton County, Newton County Public Schools had 96 percent meeting or exceeding, up from last year’s 94 percent. NCPS’s three high school scores were: Alcovy - 96 percent, up from last year’s 93 percent; Eastside - 97 percent, up two points from 95 percent last year; Newton High - 95 percent, increasing one point from 94 percent last year.

Across the state, the percentage of high school students in the state meeting or exceeding on the GHSWT increased this year to 93 percent, up from 91 percent last year and 88 percent in 2007, when the current, more rigorous assessment was first introduced.

Students must pass the test to receive a high school diploma, and can take it multiple times in their junior and senior years. Students are asked to produce a response to one on-demand persuasive writing prompt. The writing test requires students to produce a composition of no more than two pages on an assigned topic. Students are allowed 100 minutes to write their essay. Students can score up to 350 points, with 200 points required to pass the test.

**State-wide highlights from the fall administration of the Georgia High School Writing Test:**

- Ninety-three percent of all students met or exceeded the standard for the test, a 2 percentage point increase from 91 percent in 2011.

- State-wide, the achievement gap between black and white students meeting or exceeding the standard has decreased by 4 percentage points from 10 percent to 6 percent. Gains were made by both groups, but gains made by black students exceeded those made by white students. Ninety percent of black students met or exceeded the standard for the test, a 3 percentage point increase from 87 percent in 2011.

- The achievement gap between Hispanic and white students meeting or exceeding the standard has decreased by 8 percentage points from 13 percent to 5 percent. Gains were made by both groups, but gains made by Hispanic students exceeded those made by White students. Ninety-one (91) percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded the standard for the test, a 2 percentage point increase from 89 percent in 2011.

- The achievement gap between special education grade 11 first-time test takers and all grade 11 first-time test takers meeting or exceeding the standard has decreased by 11 percentage points from 34 percent to 23 percent. Seventy-two (72) percent of special education grade eleven first-time test-takers met or exceeded the standard for the test, a 6 percentage point increase from 66 percent in 2011.

For more information, see the GHSWT Website: http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/Georgia-High-School-Writing-Test.aspx