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DoE: New curriculum making a difference
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Although the results for individual systems like Liberty are not available yet, the state Department of Education says the results of the 2007 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) show that Georgia’s new curriculum is making a difference.
In the classes where the new Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) have been taught for two years, the percent passing the CRCT has gone up in practically every area.
“The CRCT results demonstrate that our teachers are getting more comfortable with our standards-based curriculum and that our students are benefiting from the rigor and focus of the Georgia Performance Standards,” State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said.
Among the highlights:
• Of the 19 tests aligned to GPS for two years, the percentage of students passing went up on 16 of the exams.
• The biggest increase was in 7th grade science, which saw the pass rate increase from 63 percent in 2006 to 70 percent in 2007. Other large performance increases (5 points or greater) were seen in 7th grade English and reading, 5th grade reading and 4th grade English.
• The achievement gap between the performance of white students and black students decreased on 14 of those 19 tests. And, overall performance went up for both subgroups on those exams. The achievement gap between the performance of white and Hispanic students closed on 16 of the 19 tests.
Cox said the GPS covers fewer concepts each year than the old curriculum, but allows students time to master those concepts and then move on.
 “If you have high expectations for students and lay out those expectations clearly, then you need to give teachers the training and time they need to cover those concepts with students,” she said. “We are doing that, and these early results show that we are on the right path.”
Implementation of the GPS began during the 2005-2006 school year in reading and English (all grades), science (grades 6, 7 and 9-12) and mathematics (grade 6).
This most recent school year, GPS implementation continued in mathematics (grade K-2 and 7) and science (grades 3-5).
As the GPS is implemented, new tests are built around the more rigorous curriculum, and then new cut scores are set.
“As the GPS is rolled out, we are really raising expectations in three ways,” said Superintendent Cox. “The curriculum itself is more rigorous, the tests require higher order thinking and the cut scores are, in nearly every case, higher.”
 “We are asking a lot of our students and our teachers, but this year’s test results show us that they are rising to the challenge,” she said. “We’re still early in the process of implementing the new curriculum, and there are areas for improvement. But, the good news is that Georgia has momentum and we are not going back.”
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