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Bulloch schools CRCT scores improve
Local students outperform state peers in many areas
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Editor's note: This article has been revised to reflect the following correction, which appears in Tuesday's print edition: Portal Elementary School had the greatest improvement of any Bulloch County public school on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, a 21.9-point gain in the percentage passing fifth-grade math from the 2011-12 school year to 2012-13. Because of a reporter's mistake, a front-page article Sunday listed the wrong subject area in which the gain was posted. The Statesboro Herald regrets the error.

Bulloch County School System third- through eighth-grade students mostly improved on last year’s performance and outperformed their peers statewide on 2012-2013 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, according to data recently released by the Georgia Department of Education.
School- and grade-level test results released last week show that area students, overall, exceeded state averages on reading, English/language arts, math, science and social studies exams, and met or exceeded standards at a higher rate than one year ago.
However, results also revealed that fourth-grade students, in general, performed below average in nearly all subject areas, and a total of three schools lagged at all grade levels.
“Our CRCT scores show various trends of improvement and regression,” said Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson, in a release issued Friday. “To have a sustainable effect on improvement, we will be incorporating CRCT scores, along with other accountability measures, into the school and system level goals for our strategic plan. By doing this, we will have a common focus that is aligned throughout our system.
“By taking this approach, along with implementation of the new curriculum standards, development of intervention strategies, and professional development efforts, we will have a much better chance of improving student achievement over the long-term,” he said.
Test results show big gains on in fifth- and seventh-grade scores, in most exam areas. 
Fifth-grade students scored higher on 36 of 45 test areas, and seventh-graders scored higher on 13 of 20 test areas, according to a Bulloch County school system analysis released Friday.
One school, Brooklet Elementary, exceeded state averages in every subject and at every grade level, and improved upon the previous year’s scores in science, social studies and math.
Portal Elementary School’s scores also improved in several subjects. Portal produced the greatest improvement of any Bulloch County school (21.9-point increase to the pass rate in fifth-grade science, which increased to 92.1 percent) — and exceeded state marks in all but fifth-grade social studies.
Eighth-grade grade science scores at William James Middle School increased, too.
Wilson said William James administration and teachers implemented new, student-centered project-based learning methods specifically for students at that level.
“Even though this was a research-based effort, there were some concerns about trying something different,” Wilson said.
“These teacher-leaders are to be commended for their innovative and well-measured approach to improving student achievement,” he continued. “This is the type of informed initiative that it is going to take to build the school system we need in Bulloch County.  We are very proud of these teachers and their students.”
The news was not all positive, however.
Fourth-grade students struggled across the board, except at Brooklet and Portal elementary schools.
Fourth-grade students at Julia P. Bryant, Mattie Lively, Mill Creek, Nevils and Stilson elementary schools passed a majority of tests at lower rates than one year ago. Students at those schools fared worse than Georgia peers in several, and sometimes all, subject areas.
Fourth-graders at Mill Creek, Mattie Lively and Julia P. Bryant did not meet the state averages in any subject, and Langston Chapel Elementary students performed under the mark in every category except social studies.
At three schools — Langston Chapel Elementary, Mattie Lively Elementary, and Langston Chapel Middle School — students consistently fell short of state averages at every grade level (seventh-grade notwithstanding), and in every subject.
Some notable test statistics: the largest decline in pass rates for an elementary school was 18.2 points, to 73.5 percent, by Langston Chapel Elementary students in English/language arts. Portal Middle High sixth-grade social studies improved by 13.8 points, to a 76.7 percent pass rate, but the school’s pass rate in eighth-grade science dropped 9.5 points to 67.1 percent.
The following schools registered perfect pass rates: Brooklet Elementary (fifth-grade reading), Mill Creek Elementary (fifth-grade reading), Stilson Elementary (fifth-grade reading and English/language arts), and Portal Middle High School (eighth-grade reading. 
The lowest pass rate for an elementary school occurred at Langston Chapel Elementary — just 59.6 percent of fifth-grade science students met or exceeded standards.
The lowest pass rate for a middle school occurred at Langston Chapel Middle — 64.6 percent of eight-grade science students met or exceeded standards.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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