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School system boasting of CRCT scores
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Effingham County schools exceeded state scores in a number of areas of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test this past year, including some rankings in the top 10 percent of the state, assistant superintendent Greg Arnsdorff told the Effingham County Board of Education on Wednesday.

The percentage of Effingham students meeting or exceeding the standard for this year’s CRCT was higher than the state average in every grade level in every content area, Arnsdorff said. Also, the Effingham County School District ranked in the top 50 of 180 districts in 29 of 30 content areas tested in grades 3-8.

“We know there are issues with the CRCT. It does not tell the whole story,” Arnsdorff said, “but certainly against the measure that we’re held to today, it was a very strong performance over the last year, in spite of the economic downturn the district has faced.”

Effingham County ranked among the top 10 percent of Georgia’s local education agencies in seven categories — fourth-grade English, fifth-grade math and social studies, sixth-grade math, seventh-grade math and social studies, and eighth-grade science.

“Certainly we’re pleased with being in the top 10 percent in a lot of categories,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said. “It’s all about the people, and it’s all about the teachers in the classroom. They make the difference.”

In grades 3-5, the percentage of Effingham students meeting or exceeding the standard on the CRCT improved from last year in eight of the 15 content areas. The highest percentage was 98 in fifth-grade English.

The numbers were even better for the county’s middle schoolers, who improved from last year in 14 of the 15 areas. The lone exception was an already high-scoring area — eighth-grade reading, which had a 98 meeting/exceeding percentage after a 99 last year.

“We also exceeded the state in each of the 15 areas that we’re comparing ourselves against,” Arnsdorff said.

One of the strongest showings in the district was at Ebenezer Middle School. EMS scored in the top 10 percent of the state in four sixth-grade content areas (English, math, science and social studies), and in math and science in both seventh and eighth grade.

South Effingham had the most top-10 state scores among elementary schools, with six — in third-grade social studies, fourth-grade math, and fifth-grade reading, math, science and social studies.

Arnsdorff acknowledged the next round of test scores might not be as high, as Effingham County students adjust to this year’s implementation of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. He said that curriculum changes can initially result in “some dips in student performance.”

Georgia has joined 44 other states in implementing a national set of performance standards in English/language arts and mathematics. The common core is designed to create more rigorous performance standards that are measured consistently across the country.

“Probably not everybody who was making As in the past is going to be making As,” he said. “We will continue to do the best job we can with the resources we have available. It’s just going to be a year of transition, and we’ll hope things will get better as we move forward.”