Rockdale’s county-wide Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores for the 2008-2009 school year were a mixed bag of increases and decreases.
The scores were released Thursday; however, the scores for individual elementary and middle schools will not be released until July 7. The end-of-the year tests are designed to measure the ability of grade school students to acquire, retain and understand knowledge, concepts and skills and allow school and the state to measure academic progress from one year to the next.
Third, fifth and eighth-graders are required to pass certain subjects in order to proceed to the next grade. Third grade students must pass the reading section, while fifth and eighth graders must pass the reading and math sections
Students in grades one through eight are given the test every year and their knowledge is measured against statewide scores. All students are tested on reading, English/language arts and mathematics, while grades three through eight are additionally tested in science and social studies. It is a requirement of Georgia law that students participate in these tests.
Scores are also used to determine whether individual schools have passed the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress standards, which are mandated to be passed by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. If schools fail to meet the AYPs a few years in a row in Georgia they can be forced to replace personnel, reorganize the school’s structure and even close eventually.
The scores are measured by the percentage of students who either met or exceeded expectations, and the differences are from the 2008-2009 school year compared to the 2007-2008 school year.
In Rockdale, reading scores were down slightly in the majority of grades, including a decrease of 5.4 percent for grade three to 91.6 percent of students, who met or exceeded expectations, and a 5.8 percent decrease to 91.2 for grade five.
English/language arts, which includes grammar, sentence construction and research, were split evenly between increases and decreases. They were up by 4.4 percent to 94.4 and 4 percent to 95 respectively in grade six and grade eight.
Math scores increased in five out of the eight grades, but were down by 6.6 percent to 84.4 in grade five and down 4.7 percent to 72.3 in grade eight.
Science scores improved significantly most grades, including a 9.3 percent jump to 79.3 in grade five and a 6.3 percent jump to 68.3 in grade eight.
On the opposite end social studies grades decreased dramatically, falling by double digits in grade three, four and five. However, Dana Tofig, communications director for the Georgia Department of Education, said the state introduced a new social studies curriculum in 2008-2009, which is more rigorous and focused. Therefore, the scores from last year should not be compared, because the tests were different.
"We are phasing in the curriculum (in each section) over many years and as each new section is rolled out, new tests are given in those areas," Tofig said. "The tests not only test more rigorous material but they ask for higher level thinking. In other words, the tests are harder than those aligned to the old curriculum. Again, this was a statewide thing, not just Rockdale."
In a previous press release, Tofig said that the scores are up across the state, including a largest increase in eighth-grade math scores.
Officials have said in various press releases that the individual school scores are more telling.