Saturday, May 30, 2009
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CONYERS - Scores on the 11th-grade writing tests in Rockdale County dropped by four points from the previous year, but still remain at or above the state average. According to the 2007-08 Georgia High School Writing Assessment results released recently by Rockdale County Public Schools, averages dipped at each of the county's three high schools; and countywide, the scores fell from 96 percent passing to 92 percent. Even so, Rockdale County juniors outscored the state averages, which dropped from 94 percent in 2006-07 to 89 percent the following year. Regional averages likewise fell from 95 percent of students passing to 90 percent.On the 100-minute test, which students took in late September, students were scored on ideas, organization, style and conventions/grammar for their piece of writing.Students must pass the writing test, as well as the four other Georgia High School Graduation Tests - English/language arts, math, science and social studies - to receive a high school diploma in Georgia. It also figures into schools' Adequate Yearly Progress, as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.Each of the county's three high schools had a dip in scores from last school year.Ninety-five percent of 11th-graders at Salem High School passed the test this year, compared to 98 percent for the 2006-07 school year; Heritage High School had a 93 percent pass rate after last year's 96 percent; and 89 percent of juniors at Rockdale County High School passed the test, with last year's rate being 93 percent."This particular assessment was the first year with the change from what is considered basic to more rigorous," RCPS Superintendent Samuel King said.In the fall, changes were implemented to make the test more in line with the new statewide curriculum, Georgia Performance Standards, and away from the previous one, Quality Core Curriculum. These statewide changes include a new writing timeline, changes in the scoring system and new scoring rubrics, among others.King said when changes like that occur, it's normal to see a decline the first year or so afterward."We were able to outperform the state and outperform (the region) - we are proud of that, but we certainly have room for improvement," he said. "We do have our work cut out for us as we try to improve."Laura Grimwade, director of research, assessment and accountability for the school system, said teachers at all grade levels are analyzing test results to develop plans for areas that need improvement."RCPS will continue to expose all students to experiences and opportunities that will enable them to pursue limitless aspiration," she said.The next retest date for students who failed the writing test is July 16; students also will have multiple opportunities throughout the next school year for a retest before their scheduled graduation date.Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.