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School system among tops in writing

All surpass state average on test

POSTED: December 9, 2012 12:34 a.m.
 

Forsyth continues to be among the state’s top performing districts on the Georgia High School Writing Test, with 98.6 percent of its students passing the exam.

“The school board and I are thrilled that all of our high schools surpassed the state in the percentage of high school students exceeding and passing the [test],” said Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans.

Forsyth’s results top the state’s 93 percent pass rate and also posted a slight gain of less than a percentage point over last year, according to recently released state scores.

“All of the high schools surpassed the stated in exceeds and in percentage passed … but we’re excited when we continue to do so,” said Beth Kieffer, assessment director for the district.

Of the county’s five traditional high schools, Lambert led the way with a 99.4 percent pass rate and the highest rate, 23 percent, of students not just meeting but exceeding the standards.

South, West and Central high schools posted 98.8 percent, 98.5 percent and 98.4 percent pass rates, respectively, while North had 97.8 percent.

Also, 100 percent of the students in the county’s nontraditional schools, iAchieve Virtual and the Forsyth academies, passed the test. That included 20 students at iAchieve and 21 at Forsyth Academy.

Kieffer said those marks show the two schools are proving to be successful programs for students who may have had difficulty in the traditional schools.

“It just means that those kids really are placed in the right placement. This is where they excel best,” she said. “This just reinforces that … if you’re having difficulty in your home schools, it could be an internal issue, it could be an external issue.

“And once you get that fixed, you’re focused on the academic part of it again and that’s when they … can perform at their best.”

All of the system’s high schools passed their Investing in Education Excellence, or IE2, contract goals, according to Kieffer.

The contract gives the system flexibility from state mandates in exchange for increased accountability. So meeting the IE2 goals allows the district to maintain its current education practices.

Some schools dipped slightly from last year’s scores, but Kieffer said dealing in higher percentage ranges is “really tough.”

“The lowest we had last year with a percentage passing was a 96, so it’s very hard once you get into those upper reaches,” she said. “You just toggle back and forth. A couple of schools may have dipped below, but the lowest this year was a 97.8 percent pass.”

In total, only about 34 of more than 2,400 students didn’t pass the test. Because test-takers are juniors, Kieffer said, those students have up to six chances to pass the test.

While there are some that may never do so — particularly special needs students and non-English speakers — the majority will pass on another try, said Karl Mercer, system assessment coordinator.

“In general, a kid that has been in Forsyth County schools their entire life passes these tests within the first time they take them,” he said.

“It’s the kids that move in, it’s the kids that are new to the curriculum, new to Georgia and new to Forsyth County and the rigorous curriculum that we have and our high expectations too.”

Forsyth was one of the top 10 systems. Of those, it’s by far the largest, with 2,408 students who took the test.

Fayette County, south of Atlanta, was the next closest with 1,627 students tested. The next largest district in the top 10 was Monroe County with 226 students.

The number of students being tested makes a difference, Kieffer said. It’s why she tries not to look at the statewide county list.

“What we generally do when we run our numbers is look at comparable [school districts]. We look at [those] that are within 1,000 students one way or another,” she said.

Fayette County is on that list, she said, as are the school systems in Cherokee, Hall, Clayton and Henry counties, among others.

Evans said he’s proud of the system’s schools for passing their IE2 goals and continuing to post high test results.

“Our teachers and students are working hard to meet and exceed the high expectations of our community, and are college and career ready for post-secondary opportunities,” he said.

 

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