Liberty County students tend to excel in reading and English language arts, but they need to polish their science skills, according to a preliminary 2011 testing report.
Sandy Jones, director of curriculum and professional learning for the Liberty County School System, said those were the overall trends in the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test system summary reports for the main administration, which the department received Wednesday.
"These results are constantly changing, evolving and revolving," Jones said. This round of scores does not include the results from about 350 third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students, who did not pass the first round of tests, administered April 11-21.
Those who failed initially were allowed to attend remedial summer classes before re-taking either the math or reading portion in June, she said. Individual score reports indicate that an estimated 60 percent of those who re-took the test passed it.
Administrators sent individual scores by mail Wednesday to parents whose children were re-tested, Jones said. Before the school year begins, principals must confer with parents and teachers to discuss whether to promote those students who did not pass their second round of tests. All parties must decide to promote a child to the next grade, or the student will be retained.
Jones anticipates Liberty County scores will improve slightly when final scores, which include the re-test figures, are released with Georgia Adequate Yearly Progress reports in late September or October, she said.
Liberty County students in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade English language arts and in fourth- and fifth-grade reading did exceed the state average, which is expressed by the percentage of students meeting or exceeding a passing grade, she said.
"We always do really well in those areas," Jones added.
Students also performed above the state average in third- and fifth-grade social studies and fourth- and fifth-grade science.
Mathematics, science and social studies are areas where the students did not perform as well, Jones said.
Liberty County eighth-graders were below the state averages for all three subjects, with passing rates of 55 percent for science compared with the 68 percent state average, 68 percent for math compared with a state average of 78, and 63 percent for social studies compared with the state average of 73.
Sixth-grade Liberty County students also were below the state’s averages for science and social studies, with rates of 65 and 69 percent compared with the state average of 71 percent for both areas.
These topics will become the system’s priorities for the upcoming school year, with a focus on continuing education for teachers, Jones said.
Outside consultants from Armstrong Atlantic State University, Georgia Southern University and the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement are among the experts who may introduce teachers to hands-on learning opportunities in the classroom during the school board’s annual summit this fall, she said.
This year’s results show some system-wide gains over last year, Jones said. Seventh grade meeting or exceeding percentages increased in all five testing concentrations. Though still below the state average of 89 percent in math, Liberty County increased from 80 percent last year to 87 percent this year. County seventh-graders increased their meeting or exceeding rates by 10 percentage points, raising their rate from 58 to 68, though still below the state average of 78.
A number of factors, including a mid-year influx of transfer students, new teachers or new school administration, can influence test rates, Jones said. System administrators will continue to analyze the data to identify problem sources.
Students scored on par with the state in the following: third-grade reading, fifth-grade mathematics, sixth-grade English language arts, sixth-grade mathematics, eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade English language arts.