Bright spots seen in individual school CRCT results

Two schools -- Kittredge Magnet for High Achievers in DeKalb County and Marietta Center for Advanced Academics in Marietta -- logged some of the best results on this year's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

Both had 100 percent passing rates for some grades on all the tests. For Kittredge, it was on the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade tests. Marietta's was on the third- and fifth-grade tests.

Emily Lembeck, superintendent of Marietta City Schools, said magnet schools like hers typically score high.

"However, looking at these results, I am very proud to see outstanding educators challenging capable students," she said. "I just believe it's very high-level and engaging instruction, and these students are very tuned in to what is being taught."

Other schools in districts that have struggled to meet the state average also made strong showings. For example, Atlanta's Benteen and Blalock elementary schools were among the state's top performers on third-grade reading on the CRCT, with 100 percent passing rates.

Blalock had a 100 percent passing rate on third-grade math, as well.

By contrast, the Atlanta school system as a whole had an 84 percent passing rate on third-grade reading; the statewide rate was 88 percent. Tuesday's release of the school-by-school results is something closely watched by parents and administrators because of the weight the CRCT carries on everything from student promotions to funding.

Third-graders can't advance without passing the reading test, and students in grades 5 and 8 must pass the reading and math tests for promotion. Scores on the math, reading and English tests also help determine whether schools meet the goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Schools that repeatedly fail face increasingly severe sanctions, from being required to offer free tutoring to a possible takeover by the state.

Last year, parents were stunned by some of the high failure rates on middle school math and social studies tests.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox threw out scores from the sixth- and seventh-grade social studies exams, which about 71 percent of the sixth-graders and about 76 percent of the seventh-graders failed.

Statewide and systemwide results for this year's CRCT were released in the past few weeks and, with few exceptions, showed steady improvement over last year's scores and strong performances overall in suburban counties, like Forsyth County.

The new school-by-school results showed some big gains. For example, in Cherokee County, 85.1 percent of fifth-graders passed the math test this year, compared with 60.5 percent last year.

The fifth-grade math score at Holly Springs Elementary also jumped significantly, from 74.2 percent passing to 89.6 percent passing.

The scores released Tuesday could change when scores from this summer's retests are ultimately added.

Last summer's retest results from some schools could be thrown out based on findings of a preliminary investigation by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement. The investigation found that retest results from last summer may have been altered at four schools -- including three in the metro area, DeKalb County's Atherton Elementary; Atlanta's Deerwood Academy; and Parklane Elementary in Fulton County.

-- Staffer Matthew Dempsey contributed to this article.

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