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Schools say writing program is strong
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Overall, the Effingham County School System believes its high school writing program is strong and continuing to improve.

Results from the Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT) showed a slight dip in all students meeting or exceeding standards and an increased mean score from 2010. The system’s overall mean score bumped up from 219 to 221, back to where it was in 2009. The percentage of students that met or exceeded the standard was down one percent from last year to 91 percent.

The state’s total percent of students who met or exceeded standards was 93 percent and the First District Regional Education Service Agency was 90 percent. This brings Effingham close to its RESA partners and only 2 percent below the state.

“When I look at that, I say, ‘oh well, we dropped a percentage point,’” said Judith Shuman, student and professional learning coordinator for Effingham County Schools. “But one percentage point in a given year should not be cause for alarm. Certainly we do not want to see that trend continue.

“But when we look at what happened at the state level and also what happen in the First District (RESA), they experienced an even greater decline percentage-wise than we did.

“With the writing test, sometimes the topic has a lot to do with overall performance. So we feel like our students held pretty strong against that topic compared to what the state and the RESA did. That also tells us we did something positive there in maintaining where we are pretty much, where there was some slight slippage in the other areas.”

But, Shuman said that scores for students in the regular program who met or exceeded standards was equal to the state’s 95 percent.

Shuman said that the regular program is performing on par with the state as a whole, but that all students were slightly below signals to them a need to focus on special education program students.

“We look at our overall group and we’re not quite at our state average, about two percentage points below the state,” Shuman said. “When we know we’re the same with regard to our regular program students, that tells us that our students with disabilities is a subgroup that needs our extra attention in order to bring them up to be consistent with (how) the rest of the state is performing as well.”

Effingham County High School had a 26 percent increase from 40 percent in 2010 to 66 percent in 2011 of their special programs students who passed the GHSWT. ECHS also saw a 5 percent increase from 3 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2011 of students who exceeded standards.

South Effingham High School posted a 2 percent increase from 2010 to 9 percent in 2011 of students who exceeded standards in the GHSWT.