Taking the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests for the last time, students at Brooklet Elementary School were Bulloch County’s highest achievers in the elementary grades, while William James, Portal and Southeast Bulloch split the middle school honors, excelling at different grade levels.
Ending a 13-year run, the CRCTs, administered in grades three through eight each spring, will be replaced in 2015 by new tests, called Georgia Milestones. The Georgia Department of Education had released the 2014 state- and district-level results in June, but the school-specific passing rates were released only this week.
“While these results show areas of success and areas of concern, we must realize that what is being measured and how it is being measured is changing,” Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said in a statement provided from his office. “Moving forward, our focus will be on how students, teachers, and ultimately the school system will be measured using the state’s new accountability model, the College and Career Ready Performance Index.”
Wilson’s further remarks about the new era of testing and accountability will be posted at the school system’s website, www.bulloch.k12.ga.us. But a chart of the 2014 CRCT school results is available at www.statesboroherald.com.
Some highlights follow.
What are here referred to as passing rates are sums of the percentages of students who “met” or “exceeded” the grade-level standards. But CRCT scores were a required part of promotion decisions only at grades three (reading only), five and eight (reading and math), which will continue to be the “gateway” years with Georgia Milestones.
The Bulloch County Schools’ overall passing rates revealed room for improvement in third and fourth grades, but Brooklet Elementary proved an exception. Brooklet’s third-, fourth- and fifth-graders surpassed the state success rates in all five areas tested: reading, English language arts, math, science and social studies.
“Brooklet Elementary is fortunate to have outstanding faculty and staff, highly motivated students, and very supportive parents,” Principal Marlin Baker said.
Brooklet posted the system’s highest marks in third-grade reading, with 99.1 percent passing – compared to 91.1 percent of third-graders countywide – as well as in third-grade English, math, science, social studies; fourth-grade reading, English, science and social studies; and fifth-grade reading, English, science and social studies.
In comments included in a Bulloch County Schools news release, Baker also credited planning by teachers in teams called professional learning communities. The Bulloch County Schools’ emphasis on these communities coincides with the state’s switch to the new tests and to the College and Career Ready Performance Index, which replaced Adequate Yearly Progress as a way to track how schools, districts and the state are doing.
“We are using professional learning communities in which our teacher teams work together to determine at what levels students are currently and what they need immediately to be successful,” Baker said.
Portal Elementary School achieved the system’s greatest success in fourth-grade math, with a 92.3 percent passing rate, while Stilson Elementary School was tops in fifth-grade math, with an unbeatable 100 percent of tested students passing.
Although not matching these top numbers, Julia P. Bryant Elementary School achieved a kind of most-improved status. Julia P. students’ passing rates increased in nine of the 15 grade-level subject areas tested. The biggest gain was an 11.2-point leap, to 83.9 percent of this year’s fourth-graders passing, in science.
“I believe Julia P. Bryant’s success is a result of teachers seeing each child individually and doing their best to help them grow and be more confident in everything they do,” said outgoing Principal Nate Pennington, who will serve at Nevils Elementary next school year. Julia P. posted other significant gains for third-grade science, fourth-grade English language arts, and fifth-grade reading and math.
Meanwhile, Langston Chapel Elementary School’s passing rates were the county’s lowest in all five subjects in third grade; in English in fifth grade; and in all subjects except social studies in fourth grade. Langston Chapel’s 56.3 percent passing in third-grade math was the county’s lowest rate at any grade level.
Mattie Lively Elementary School posted Bulloch’s lowest marks in fifth grade in all subjects except English and the lowest in fourth-grade social studies.
Overall, passing rates for Bulloch County third- and fourth-graders were lower in 2014 than 2013 in every area except third-grade math. Third-grade math passing rates rose 1.7 percentage points over 2013, and were only 0.4 point below the state rate.
But Bulloch County’s middle schools outperformed its elementary schools, especially in comparison to the statewide passing rates. As previously reported, the Bulloch schools eighth-grade passing rates topped the state’s in all five subjects tested.
In sixth grade, Southeast Bulloch Middle School’s passing rates, ranging from 81.7 percent in social studies to 98.2 percent in reading, were the county’s highest in all subject areas. SEB students also exceeded the statewide passing rates in all test areas.
In seventh grade, Portal Middle High School had the county’s highest passing rate in reading, 98.3 percent, while William James Middle School’s success was tops in science, 90.1 percent. But Southeast Bulloch again ranked on top in English, 97.2 percent; math, 93.1 percent, and social studies, 89.1 percent.
In eighth grade, William James dominated in three categories, with passing rates of 98.4 percent in reading, 97.4 percent in English, and 89.9 percent in social studies. But Portal had the highest rates in math, 98 percent, and science, 84.9 percent.
Even while placing last within Bulloch County, Langston Chapel Middle School’s passing rates in reading, English, math and social studies, ranging from 97.2 percent to 82.2 percent, were higher than the state’s. The LCMS passing rate of 72.9 percent in eighth-grade science was lower than the statewide 77.9 percent or county 79.7 percent but improved on the 64.6 percent success of the 2013 LCMS eighth grade.
“When students have a supportive relationship with their teachers, they are more willing to work hard in school; are more likely to perceive themselves as more academically capable; and are motivated in the classroom,” LCMS Principal Evelyn Gamble-Hilton said.