Recently, school systems across the state have received the results of the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) taken by third through eighth grade students before the end of the school year. State-wide, scores held steady for the most part. At the Haralson County School System, some scores were up and down, but overall the system saw improvement.
“I am pleased we had an increase in the percentage of our students either meeting or exceeding in 16 different areas of the CRCT this past year as compared to the 2011 results for our school system,” Haralson County Schools Superintendent Brett Stanton said. “Furthermore, knowing we exceeded the state rate with students meeting or exceeding in 11 areas of the most recent administration of the CRCT is very positive as well.”
According to Haralson County Schools Director of Instruction and Assessment Annette Johnson, the areas Haralson’s students really excelled in were reading, social studies and science.
“Our social studies and science scores are really exciting,” said Johnson, “because more than half the kids didn’t just meet expectations, they exceeded them. It’s phenomenal!”
Johnson says such results can most likely be credited to the social studies and science coaches at the middle school, who have taken on the roll of raising expectations and increasing the rigor of the curriculums, as well as increasing the amount of hands-on labs and applied lessons.
In social studies, 78 percent of third graders met or exceeded expectations, while 71.7 percent of fourth graders, 78.8 percent of fifth graders, 81.8 percent of sixth and seventh graders, and 81.5 percent of eighth graders met or exceeded. In science, 82 percent of third graders met or exceeded expectations, and 77.7 percent of fourth graders, 81.5 percent of fifth graders, 81.4 percent of sixth graders, 89.4 percent of seventh graders, and 78.5 percent of eighth graders exceeded. Several of these scores were an improvement over last year’s, and most scores were higher than the state average.
Johnson says the system’s high reading scores could probably be attributed to a former federal grant the school system used to have designed to work with schools struggling with reading.
“We, of course, have reading instructional strategies and coaches, and I have to wonder if we aren’t still seeing the effects of the Reading First grant,” Johnson said.
The school system had the grant for six years and it ended three years ago. Johnson says she feels the positive reading results could still be attributed to the grant because teachers are still using and expanding on the instructional strategies and professional development they gained from the grant.
Reading scores for students who met or exceeded expectations were 88.9 for third graders, 84.6 for fourth graders, 87.6 for fifth graders, 94.6 for sixth graders, 94.3 for seventh graders and 97.3 for eighth graders. The system saw similar results in language arts, with 88.1 percent of third graders, 84 percent of fourth graders, 88.8 percent of fifth graders, 89.1 percent of sixth graders, 90.7 percent of seventh graders, and 92.5 percent of eighth graders meeting or exceeding expectations.
The one area the system had trouble was on the math portion of the CRCT. In fact, math scores went down in four out of the six grades that took the test. Sixth graders and Seventh graders raised their scores since last year to 78.2 and 89.6 percent meeting and exceeding, respectively. However, the other grades’ numbers dropped slightly, with 73.1 third graders meeting and exceeding, and 68.1 fourth graders, 70.4 fifth graders, and 69.9 eighth graders meeting or exceeding.
“Math is a category schools struggle with across the state,” Johnson said. “We’ll be holding leadership team meetings in the coming weeks and that is on everyone’s agenda. We’re going to look at this and analyze the data and discover the root cause. For example, it could have possibly been a particular domain in the math questions the children had trouble with; if so, we want to identify that and help them work on it.”