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Results mixed on graduation test scores
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The Effingham County Board of Education had a glimpse at the results of the high school graduation test on Wednesday.

The Georgia High School Graduation Test is a “high stakes test,” said Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff, who added that students must pass it to graduate unless they receive a waiver or variance. Students who do not pass the GHSGT the first time have five chances to take it again before graduation.

School board members received results in language arts, math, science and social studies. This is the second year for language arts to fall under the Georgia Performance Standards.

Scores were down slightly from last year, falling to 89 percent passing in 2009 from 91 percent passing in 2008. The pass rate in 2007 was 97 percent.

“You’ll notice there’s been a trend over time of our scores not moving in the positive direction, and so that’s set off some review in those areas,” Arnsdorff said.

In math, the system had a pass rate of 95 percent in 2009, up slightly from 94 percent in 2008, and down from 96 percent in 2007.
“That continues to be pretty much where we’ve been over time,” he said.

On the science test, there was an 89 percent pass rate for 2009, up from 87 percent in 2008, and 78 percent in 2007.

“Technically, language arts was one that we performed relatively high, but science was one that was a challenge all around the state,” Arnsdorff said. “If you look back, we have a big shift in where we’ve come from — a 21 percent increase in five years in the number of students passing this test on the first (try).”

Arnsdorff said partnering with the National Science Foundation and Georgia Southern University with the PRISM grants probably had an impact.

“It’s something that we really worked very hard on, and because we paid such close attention, you see the results over time,” he said.

The system had an 88 percent pass rate in social studies, down from 90 percent in 2008 and 92 percent in 2007.

Arnsdorff said this year’s GHSGT is a hybrid test, meaning it has both the old and new curriculum standards because students have had both during high school.

He said that curriculum coordinator Judith Shuman pointed out to him that there are only 26 systems in the state that test more students than Effingham County.

“Out of that, only 16 districts had higher pass rates in English/language arts than we did,” Arnsdorff said. “Only nine had higher pass rates in math than we did. Only 14 have higher pass rates in social studies or science than we did.”

He said when discussing testing students, Effingham County is “up there with the big guys,”

“Specifically, in ranking out of 186 school systems or schools that tested, we were 61 in language arts, we were 66 in math, we were 77 in science, and we were 66 in social studies,” he said.

He said the system is above the state in most areas.

“We are always looking for ways to improve,” he said. “Our goals would be to have everyone pass on their first administration.”

Arnsdorff said there is an intensive program about to begin for students who did not pass the science or social studies portion of the test and will be able to take the test again after that course.

“Unlike CRCT, there’s no one person responsible for this test — it’s an accumulation of what everyone has done. This is from a student’s whole career in school,” he said.