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CRCT results worrying officials statewide

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POSTED: June 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Liberty County's and other school systems across the state have not received results from this year's Criteria-Referenced Competency Tests yet. But they apparently are going to be bad news when they are released next month.
Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox released a statement Monday warning educators and parents that preliminary results are not good. She also said she called many local superintendents around the state and said the results "have raised concerns about low scores in grade 8 mathematics and grades 6 and 7 social studies."
Those unofficial results apparently show that only 20-30 percent of sixth and seventh graders passed the social studies exam. And 60 percent of eighth graders passed the math portion of their tests.
While that math number sounds better, it means as many as 40 percent of eighth graders will not be promoted to ninth grade if they can't pass makeup tests over the summer. Cox promises the state will help offset costs for additional tutoring and testing over the summer.
The superintendent says she believes the preliminary results reflect a "temporary dip" in scores and the number of students who meet expectations. She says standards and expectations have been raised in the past year and that it takes time for students to catch up.
As an example, she points out that this is the first year every eighth grader was required to take algebra, statistics and geometry. In past years only a few eighth graders took algebra. Most students were not introduced to algebra until they were in high school and statistics and geometry were specialty classes that also waited until high school.
We hope that Cox is right.
"For too long we have had a vast majority of our students performing well on state tests, only to be poorly prepared for national assessments. The result has been low national test scores and, ultimately, students who are not college or work ready," she wrote in her warning.
But even if she is, there is another aspect of the issue that educators and school officials from Washington Avenue to Washington, D.C., need to start exploring. That is whether the economies of scale sought in our ever-bigger schools are serving students. It would be expensive to cut enrollments in high and middle schools from 1,000-2,000 to 500-1,000 and elementary schools from 500-1,000 to 200-300. But it might be the fastest route to giving students the individual attention needed to educate our future.
 

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