Cherokee County students in all grade levels tested, grades three through eight, outperformed state averages on the 2014 Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Test, or GCRCT, based on figures released this week by the state Department of Education.
GCRCT test results are reported based on how many students meet, do not meet or exceed standards in five subject areas: reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
“In all subject areas, CCSD saw a higher percentage of students to exceed or meet standards than the state,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said in a memo. “CCSD grew its percentage of students who exceed standards in 13 of 30 possible categories.”
For students in third grade, passing the reading portion of the GCRCT helps determine if they will move on to the next grade level. In fifth and eighth grade, passing both the reading and mathematics sections helps determine if students will be promoted to the next grade, Petruzielo explained.
“Of 2,927 students participating in the grade three reading test, 96 percent passed on the first administration,” Petruzielo said. “Of 3,046 students participating in the grade five reading test, 97 percent passed on the first administration; for the grade five mathematics test, 93 percent passed on the first administration.”
Petruzielo added, of 3,037 students who took the eighth-grade reading test, 98.6 percent passed on their first try, while 92 percent passed the mathematics test on their first attempt.
“Eighth grade scored saw the biggest increases in students moving from ‘meets’ to ‘exceeds’ across subject areas. Greatest gains were seen in grade five science and grade eight science, and grade eight social studies,” Petruzielo said. “Eleven of the 31 CCSD schools administering the GCRCT had a perfect passing rate in at least one grade and subject area.”
Schools with a perfect passing rate in at least one subject area in a specific grade include: Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, Bascomb Elementary School, Clayton Elementary School, Free Home Elementary School, Hickory Flat Elementary School, Liberty Elementary School, Macedonia Elementary School, Mountain Road Elementary School, R.M. Moore Elementary School, Dean Rusk Middle School and Freedom Middle School.
Petruzielo said, despite many challenges, students in the district continue to excel academically.
“There is no limit to our students’ potential,” Petruzielo said. “Even as CCSD grapples with the impact of state ‘austerity budget cuts,’ a slowly recovering local tax digest and changing demographics … our students continue to excel academically and our staff remains dedicated to continuing that success.”
For example, districtwide, the percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch is up from 19 percent in 2004 to 32 percent now, with the ninth largest population of English Language Learner students in the state, Petruzielo said.
“GCRCT results are being analyzed at the district and school level to identify improvement areas and action plans,” Petruzielo said. “Our primary mission is teaching and learning, and our staff and students work diligently every day to make this a reality.”