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Bulloch CRCT results mixed, but eighth grade soars
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In their final encounter with the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, Bulloch County students passed at a rate higher than or equal to the state's in half of the grade-level subject areas.

So the flipside is, the Bulloch County Schools' passing rates, or the combined rates at which students either met or exceeded the grade-level standards, were lower than the state success rates for the other half of test areas for grades 3-8.

But among the oldest students who took the CRCT, eighth-graders, Bulloch's passing rates topped the state's in all five subjects tested. Statewide, the percentage of eighth-graders meeting or exceeding the standards increased in all subjects except math, so this puts Bulloch students besting the state numbers at a grade level where the state also showed gains.

Bulloch's passing rate on the eighth-grade reading test increased by 1.5 percentage points, from 96.3 percent in 2013 to 97.8 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, the state's passing rate in eighth grade reading edged up a mere 0.2 percentage points, to 97 percent, but reading was the area the Georgia Department of Education trumpeted in its news release on statewide scores, which were issued earlier this month. Passing rates were already highest in reading and English, both statewide and in Bulloch County, and lower in math, social studies and science.

"Reading is truly foundational to learning, so those increases in students exceeding standards are encouraging to see," State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. "As we transition to tests that more accurately reflect our standards - and the emphasis those standards place on critical thinking and comprehension - students' reading abilities will help them to excel."

Students will not take the CRCTs next spring because they are being replaced by new tests, called Georgia Milestones, also in grades three through eight. Beginning second semester, Georgia Milestones will also replace End-of-Course Tests for high school students.

So the 2014 results are the final for the CRCT. Statewide results were released June 12 and school district results Wednesday. Individual school results have yet to be released.

Eighth-grade gains

The Bulloch County Schools' largest gain for any grade level in any subject was 8.7 percentage points in eighth-grade social studies. This year, 85.4 percent of the county's eighth-graders met or exceeded the standard, compared to 76.7 percent of the previous year's eighth-graders. The second-highest gain was in eighth-grade science, up 4.8 points, with 79.7 percent of students meeting or exceeding.

Other eighth-grade meets and exceeds rates for Bulloch County were 95.2 percent in English/language arts, barely changed from 95.1 percent last year; 88.2 percent in math, down from 89.5 percent for 2013 eighth-graders.

Though eighth-grade math success rates dipped slightly when compared to local 2013 scores, students exceeded state passing rates this year by 6.7 points. Bulloch County Schools' fifth through eighth grades all posted higher pass rates in math than the state by 0.3 to 6.7 points. Sixth-grade passing rates surpassed the state rates by 3.5 points, with 87.6 percent of local students meeting or exceeding standards.

Scores for local third- and fourth-graders were lower than 2013 in every area except third-grade math. These grade levels' pass rates were also lower than the state in every area, though by narrow margins. Third-grade math rates did rise 1.7 percentage points over 2013, and were only 0.4 point below the state rate.

Third-grade science posted the district's biggest drop in any test area, as pass rates fell 5.6 percentage points from 81.6 percent in 2013 to 76 percent in 2014.

Bulloch County's lowest passing rate in any tested area came in sixth-grade science, at 74.9 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards. However, this was a 0.9 point increase over 2013 and only 0.2 percentage point lower than the state's rate.

For Bulloch County Schools, these scores include all first-time test takers and those who had to retake the test. The school system administered its CRCTs earlier than most of the state this year to allow students who did not pass portions of the test to be remediated and retested before the end of the school year instead of in summer school.

Under Georgia Milestones, grades three, five, and eight will continue to be considered "gateway" years, when the test scores are considered for student promotion. The new tests are aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.

Because next year's tests will be new, it will not be possible to compare these scores with previous years, Hayley Greene, the public relations specialist for the Bulloch County Schools, said in a news release on the CRCT scores.

"Also, as teachers and students continue to transition to standards and assessments that are more rigorous, we may see a short-term decline in scores," she cautioned.

2014 State District CRCT Comparison with 2013
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