State test results: A third of Atlanta students read on grade level

About a third of Atlanta students are on grade level in reading and writing, according to new state test results released today.

And Atlanta students passed state tests at rates below the state and, for most subjects, at among the lowest rates in the metro area. For elementary and middle school English and math, only Clayton County and, in some cases, DeKalb County had lower passing rates.

>>See how your school scored on state tests

The results are for the Milestones standardized tests Georgia students took in the spring.

These test results represent the second year that superintendent Meria Carstarphen has led Atlanta schools. Compared to last year, Atlanta saw lower scores in many grades and subjects.

That’s unusual. This is also the second year Georgia students took these particular state tests. As students and teachers become more familiar with a test’s format, scores tend to go up. And statewide, the percent of students passing state tests increased for the majority of grades and subjects tested.

The Atlanta school district is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar effort to turn around some of its lowest performing schools. It includes hiring nonprofit charter school groups to run some struggling schools and providing more teacher training, tutoring and other extra help at other schools.

Atlanta did see small increases in passing rates for a handful of grades and subject areas this year. Some individual schools also saw improvements.

But “it’s going to take a little bit of time to get all these things in place,” Atlanta Public Schools accountability chief Bill Caritj said today. “The expectation is that we will see some great gains” in future years.

Earlier this month, Carstarphen acknowledged that Atlanta Public Schools needs to do better.

Progress is great but “performance and hitting the achievement expectation is equally important,” she said. “That is going to be a heavy lift.”

Students in grades three through eight take the state tests in language arts, math, science and social studies. High school students take ten tests in individual courses in those same four subject areas.

Some Georgia students were affected by technical problems with the state’s new online testing system. About 7 percent of test sessions were affected, Department of Education officials said. But Atlanta was one of the few large districts in Georgia that did not have major problems during online testing, Carstarphen said in a written statement.

Percent of Atlanta students passing state tests in English language arts and math:

  • Third grade English language arts - 32 percent
  • Third grade math - 33 percent
  • Fifth grade English language arts - 36 percent
  • Fifth grade math - 30 percent
  • Eighth grade English language arts - 34 percent
  • Eighth grade math - 17 percent
  • High school - American literature and composition - 31 percent
  • High school - Analytic geometry - 22 percent

>>See how your school scored on state tests

>>Read more: Georgia students show gains on state standardized tests

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