“We met 13 of the system’s academic goals for grades 3 through 8, and we outperformed the state on 28 out of 30 assessments on the CRCT,” Hart said.
She said meeting and exceeding standardized testing scores goes beyond meeting state standard.
“We look at it as an overall goal we’re trying to get to on every grade level,” Hart said. “We’re doing a lot of things now, like ‘Learning Teams,’ and what we’re trying to do with that is build teacher applicancy so the more effective your teachers are, it doesn’t matter what kinds of students are coming in, you’re able to build their level of proficiency in content standards.”
She explained the school system is currently on its third year of its five-year academic plan.
“I look at how many targets have we reached this year and are we on the path for reaching the ones we want to get to,” Hart said.
Areas that needed improvement, Hart said, include fourth-grade math, which she said the system is addressing through summer school remediation. Eighth-grade science, while slightly falling short of the state performance level, saw a 6.8 percent drop from last year.
Other methods in which the school system is encouraging higher testing scores is through document-based questioning, otherwise known as DBQ.
“[Document-based questioning] is looking at real historical documents ... and what can you say about how they came up with [battle plans, etc.],” Hart said. “This isn’t just about reading a textbook, but it’s about learning how leaders make decisions and critical thinking skills ... and it’s kind of fun to look at old documents.”
She continued, “We’re trying to move in a different direction, starting with the middle school next year. We’ve got a couple of teachers trained [at teaching DBQ] and we’re very excited.”
Hart said while she was pleased with the overall results of this year’s CRCT, there always is room for improvement.
“I think every time we see a weakness that’s when we do something different,” Hart said. “So what we did was when we [previously] saw a weakness in third-grade maths scores on the CRCT for those students who become fourth-graders, [we said] let’s put them in the summer school process also so they can build their math skills.”
After measuring these students’ growth, 85 percent of students who participated in the summer math program saw gains.
“Having a goal in mind and a target is great and measuring how you have achieved in terms of your strategic plan, in terms of those goals, is great, but if you don’t look at the areas that aren’t growing and try to figure out why and do something immediately, it doesn’t matter,” Hart said. “You’ll never get to that goal.”
CRCT results can be viewed in detail for each subject area and grade level at www.doe.k12.ga.us.