Overall, Cherokee County School District fifth-grade students exceeded state performance averages on the 2012 Georgia Grade 5 Writing Assessment, said Barbara Jacoby, spokeswoman for the school district.
However, results for Cherokee Charter Academy were not as glowing. Out of the 100 students at the school who took the assessment, only 74 percent met or exceeded state standards.
Compared to district schools, the charter school only outperformed Canton Elementary School, which had 68 percent of the 98 students taking the test meeting or exceeding standards.
Aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards, the Grade 5 Writing Assessment is administered during the spring to all fifth-grade students. The test gives students a persuasive, narrative or informational prompt about which to write.
Each student’s writing is then scored independently by multiple raters and determined if it “exceeds,” meets” or “does not meet” state standards in the areas of ideas, organization, style and conventions.
According to information from the Cherokee County School District, 134 of Cherokee Charter Academy students, or 16.48 percent, receive free or reduced price lunches.
Schools with similar demographics, Macedonia (14.29 percent) and Mountain Road (14.31 percent), had 88.6 percent and 97.3 percent, respectively, garner the meets or exceeds designation on the writing test.
“Our writing scores in fifth grade are an area where we will improve upon during the upcoming year, but do not reflect the overall success that we have seen on our CRCT results in reading, language arts, math, science and social studies results,” said Vanessa Suarez, principal at Cherokee Charter Academy.
The percentage of Cherokee County School District students who met or exceeded standards also increased by three percentage points over last school year’s scores.
District students overall surpassed the state percentage of students rated as exceeds or meets by six percentage points and district students with disabilities topped the state percentage of students with disabilities rated as “exceeds” or “meets” by nine percentage points.
Of the 2,959 CCSD students who participated in the assessment, 295 are students with disabilities and 48 are English language learners.
Fifteen district schools saw gains in the percentage of students who exceed or meet standards, with R.M. Moore Elementary seeing a large jump over last year’s score in an increase of 19 percentage points. Other notable increases were seen at Hasty Elementary, which saw an increase of 11 percentage points, and Knox Elementary, which saw a gain of 10 percentage points.
However, four district schools saw declines in the percentage of students who exceed or meet standards. These schools — Canton Elementary, Free Home Elementary, Hickory Flat Elementary (with a one percentage point decrease) and Little River — will receive additional support “to assist with score analysis and to ensure best practices are in place,” Jacoby said.
“While performance varies annually as a different group of students is being evaluated, additional support has been directed to these schools,” Jacoby said. “As is the practice every year when these scores are released, all CCSD principals are to review their scores and use a school-based writing committee of grade-level leaders to coordinate improvement.”
Jacoby said teachers are to review their students’ scores and develop individualized instruction for specific needs; provide multiple opportunities for writing in all classes and provide feedback to students; include practice writing prompts on a consistent basis; work collaboratively to assess student writing as part of a benchmark process per quarterly impact check; and utilize Georgia Department of Education and CCSD resources including lesson plans tasks and student writing samples.
“The ability to communicate clearly through writing is a critical skill our students must possess to succeed as they advance toward graduation, higher education and the workplace,” said Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo in a release. “We are proud of our students and teachers for their continued success and progress on this rigorous assessment, and are dedicated to making every effort to provide the support needed to meet and exceed higher standards and expectations in the future.”