Cherokee leads metro in grad test scores; Atlanta lands last

I threw the question out last week about how students fared on the Georgia High School Graduation math test and found an array of responses. Some posters reported great scores for their own schools.

But district scores released today indicate a drop in math scores overall in the metro area.

The AJC has a database where you can check math, science, social studies and English scores. My own district did well, with 99 percent passage on science, 90 on math, 96 on English and 91 social on studies. Overall, 84.4 percent of students passed all parts of the test, giving Decatur City Schools spot 18 on the statewide ranking.

The metro’s highest pass rate was Cherokee with 90 percent of its students passing all parts of the test. The lowest passing rate in the metro area was Atlanta Public Schools, with 58 percent passing.

Today’s AJC story reports:

District-by-district scores released Friday showed fewer metro students passed the math portion of the exam, which is one of five parts necessary to earn a diploma. Atlanta Public Schools showed the biggest drop in the percentage of passing students, 17 points; Cobb showed the least, 1 percentage point.

Current high school juniors have been taught integrated math since 2006. But this is the first year the graduation exam tested them on the new format, which meshes algebra, geometry and statistics in a single course. In March, the state Board of Education voted to give districts the option of teaching math traditionally, one subject at a time.

The high-stakes graduation test is also on the way out: Starting next year, all students except incoming freshman can opt to take end-of-course test instead. Freshman and students that follow will only take the end-of-course, which will count more heavily.

–From Maureen Downey,. for the AJC Get Schooled blog

55 comments Add your comment

Jaime Sarrio

May 27th, 2011
12:20 pm

I am writing more about this for the AJC for tomorrow’s paper. If you have a student who took the test in 2011, and would be willing to be interviewed, please let me know. My e-mail is jsarrio@ajc.com
Thanks!

Dunwoody Mom

May 27th, 2011
12:28 pm

Do you want the student or the parent?

Dunwoody Mom

May 27th, 2011
12:35 pm

Ok, I’m having reading comprehension today. I’ll see if “Dunwoody Child” will talk with you.

J. J.

May 27th, 2011
12:36 pm

The APS adopted methods of teaching math does not work for the level of students being served.
As an Educational Consultant, I work with students on all levels and all who are being taught mathematics in APS show below level mastery of mathematics. The students do not understand the procedures taught in their schools and NO child has learned the multiplication tables.
The traditional methods of mathematics instruction worked…Why oh Why do the administrators persist in TRYING NEW METHODS THAT FAIL?

Jennifer

May 27th, 2011
12:43 pm

So wait a minute….Gwinnett, our largest school system in the state and a district that receives special dispensation from 13 state laws because of the IE2 contract agreement – is ranked 19th in the state on the Graduation test ?

Lenny

May 27th, 2011
12:55 pm

“The metro’s highest pass rate was Cherokee…The lowest passing rate in the metro area was Atlanta Public Schools…”

Wow, who would’ve ever guessed?

Shar

May 27th, 2011
1:11 pm

The investigation into APS cheating continues to be covered up, the Board continues to fight pointlessly, the accreditation loss looms, the cheating felon who supervises the system is preparing to walk out with her pockets full of cash and the students continue to fail. I got my property tax bill (wrong, of course) and the Board has approved a budget that will take more from my pocket than Fulton County and the City of Atlanta combined. And for what?

We are at the point where APS needs to be dissolved and either blended back with Fulton County Schools (not a pleasing prospect) or taken apart into small district units. It costs a fortune, is a complete failure and plainly cheats taxpayers and students alike.

former SPARK parent

May 27th, 2011
1:16 pm

On a related note, the Bev Hall “Farewell Video” Alan Judd writes about in today’s AJC is online, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt Bev Hall has no shame–or has a healthy sense of humor, one of the two.
Directly behind her in the video is the chart APS created showing “Steady Progress” in APS test scores. I’m not kidding you. The woman who presided over the biggest cheating scandal in the history of standardized testing in the United States, and who actively tried to cover up and conceal the evidence of that crime against thousands of black children (and a few of other ethnicities), nonetheless feels comfortable continuing to take credit for those discredited and illusory “gains.”

It is officially time for us to wake up and stop giving important jobs involving children to con artists and frauds. Who’s with me?

former SPARK parent

May 27th, 2011
1:21 pm

@Shar: sometimes you can renovate a house–even one that’s in bad shape–but sometimes you must tear it down and build something new. That’s where we are with APS and with many other urban school systems. It’s not a fixer-upper. It’s a tear-it-all-down-and-start-from-scratch.

RJ

May 27th, 2011
1:22 pm

@J.J., you are exactly right. These kids haven’t mastered the basics, yet they’re expected to do algebra and geometry. We have 5th graders that still don’t know multiplication tables. If teachers attempt to go “old school” they will receive a written reprimand.

This is also true of the scripted reading programs. They just don’t work. @Shar, the last thing we want or need in Fulton County is to be banned together with APS. Fulton already has their own set of issues.

Inman Park

May 27th, 2011
1:26 pm

A study done in the 1970’s showed that academic achievement in a child is positively correllated to family income, so these scores should, on average, come as no particular surprise to anyone. What we need to focus on are strategies to help children in poverty (whether in Atlanta or in Cherokee County) achieve academically at higher levels. Poor people aren’t dumber, they’re just at a disadvantage. Mothers and fathers don’t read to them very often, there are few or no books in the home, education is “valued,” and they have seen far less of the world at large. School Boards drone on endlessly about solving this problem but rarely present useful strategies.

EAV

May 27th, 2011
1:27 pm

The next APS administrator will be another black that touts their qualifications and achievements much the way felon Hall did. The board will not look for the best qualified candidate, they will look for a black candidate only . I hope the govenor removes several board members and appoints new ones from the areas of Atlanta north of I 20 that will do a good job and end all the corruption. Atlanta is no longer a majority black city and it is time for the school board to reflect this.

Lee

May 27th, 2011
1:35 pm

Dougherty County, one of the other systems implicated in the cheating scandal, did worse than APS.

Funny how that works out….

Rocket

May 27th, 2011
1:35 pm

Where are the erasers when you need them?

joe

May 27th, 2011
1:56 pm

@EAV, Whoever the next APS super will be will probably be crap like the past. Here is why…. who really wants the job?

Lee

May 27th, 2011
2:03 pm

Here is the link to the video that @former Spark refers to above. In it, Hall talks about the cheating scandal and how evidence shows that it occured and that some will be dealt with. At the same time, she talks about the “decade of success” and how they have “closed the achievement gap”.

ROFLMAO

APS is dead last among metro school systems and in the bottom 10% (if not lower) statewide.

This pitiful excuse should have been terminated for cause months ago, but APS board will ALLOW her to retire and draw her pension and probably buy her a nice going away present to boot.

Lee

May 27th, 2011
2:04 pm

catlady

May 27th, 2011
2:21 pm

I can hear the APS officials now, leading the cheer: We’re number 145! We’re number 145!

Ms. Downey, could you add to the database the percent free lunch also!? I am guessing Lee will want the racial mix, too. (White/black/hispanic/asian/other)

Maureen Downey

May 27th, 2011
2:23 pm

@catlady, I will send to our data team.
Maureen

catlady

May 27th, 2011
2:57 pm

I’m not so interested in race, although in Georgia it frequently correlates with income as measured by the federal lunch program. (We know free lunch is not a perfect match to income; there is some “misreporting” of income to the program. And certainly there are high income blacks and low income whites, so race isn’t a perfect substitute for income either.) I am guessing that lower income will correlate pretty well with lower pass rates, however.

catlady

May 27th, 2011
3:07 pm

My county scored favorably compared to counties around us–second (by 4 percentage points) out of the 9 I looked at (all mountain counties), and we have about 75% free lunch.

catlady

May 27th, 2011
3:14 pm

Finally, for Lee, the racial/ethnic breakdown is 85/<1/13/<1(other, including biracial).

Ashley

May 27th, 2011
3:46 pm

The only way to learn multiplication “time-table” is the basic way….old-school, not new math or theory just plain old school. Its elementary Watson! If they haven’t master them by 5th grade whats the purpose of them taking more challenging math?

catlady

May 27th, 2011
4:24 pm

Ashley, half our fifth graders don’t know their ADDITION facts!

Doris M

May 27th, 2011
4:31 pm

So Beverly Hall lied on her farewell video. APS students are at the bottom of the barrel and her twelve years have done nothing but bring shame to the school district. I want a refund of my tax money that supported the outrageous spending in APS an the outrageous cheating.

MA

May 27th, 2011
4:31 pm

@Catlady: I love(sarcasm) all of our free and reduced children at my school. They tell us that they just got a $50.00 weave and bring $1 each day for ice cream, but, don’t eat the “YUCKY” lunch and don’t have to because, umph, it’s free. Despicable!!!!!!

Ashley

May 27th, 2011
4:56 pm

@catlady….one would think by 5th grade and I’m being very kind a child who can not add and subtract shouldn’t be in the 5th grade period!

Ashley

May 27th, 2011
5:14 pm

@catlady….One would think by 5th grade, and I’m being very kind, a child who cannot add and subtract shouldn’t be in the 5th grade period!

oldtimer

May 27th, 2011
5:46 pm

Ashley…Sorry, Many in 5th grade cannot add, subtract, or multiply…forget fractions etc. Many cannot read either. When they fail the CRCT counties send parents a waiver to fill out so they get “placed” in 6th grade. Same thing happens in grade 8. Catlady has a lot of experience, as did I until I had enough and retired. My last year, my reading class was 23 boys who all failed every CRCT until 6th grade. I drove them and the parents nuts hounding them about reading, AR points, homework. Guess what all but one passed. They had never been made to do work.

catlady

May 27th, 2011
6:02 pm

MA: None of our kids have weaves. They do, however, have money to buy junk food at the ’snack store”–that galls me.

Ashley, I have been told by the asst. supt we cannot expect kids to memorize the addition facts. They are supposed to “discover’ them. So they do, day after day, year after year. Sometimes, they even “discover” that 5+8=12. It takes forever for them to work a simple problem, with all the finger-counting and skip counting (for multiplication) Forget knowing the subtraction facts! They are even worse at “discovering” the answer on those!

I agree with oldtimer. I have taught 38 years, and I have seen a vast deterioration in basic student skills, because they are not REQUIRED to learn stuff. They understand that they will be promoted, even if they have never ever passed the minimal CRCT.

You know, when I was in first grade you had to show mastery of 100 addition facts (0-20) in a few minutes to get out of first grade. Subtraction facts were required for second grade promotion. Are kids stupider than we were? No. We just don’t have any requirements for MASTERY of basic skills.

MAstery is needed before you can go on to more difficult work. Unfortunately, we quit doing that a few decades ago.

Active in Cherokee

May 27th, 2011
6:30 pm

Congratulations to the Cherokee County School System! The 90% pass rate shows our teachers, students, parents, and administrators working for a common goal – student success. After looking at all of the scores, I think many schools should look into whatever Cobb Co. is doing with the integrated math as they obviously had great success as a whole and across all of the sub-groups. Any Cobb teachers/parents care to share some helpful hints?

APS Math Teacher

May 27th, 2011
8:32 pm

This year, 100% of my juniors passed the graduation test. I am very proud of them. It wasn’t just because I am a good teacher (although I’m sure it helped), but it was mainly because these students studied and worked really hard and had parents who made sure they were prepared.

However, this same year, I had some in authority raising questions about the quality of instruction I was giving. And, at the end of the year, no one congratulated me or even mentioned the fact that my students did so well. (Some of them scored nearly perfect.)

That’s fine, because I don’t want to take credit for my students’ hard work. But it’s troubling because I know that I could very easily have been given a class of a very different sort where the results would have been drastically different; and then, I would have been called out as a bad teacher, and grilled over how I could do a better job.

We seem eager to give teachers all of the blame, but none of the credit.

Old South

May 27th, 2011
8:56 pm

What a disgrace this city is! It grows more than almost any other in the nation over the last 30 years. Then It hosts an international event that thrusts it into the world stage, and yet it still can’t get the basics right in any shape or fashion. It’s not even moving in the right direction at all.

Atlanta– the city to busy to do much of anything right.

love2teach

May 27th, 2011
9:11 pm

As a Title I math teacher, I drilled math facts EVERY day. Yes, students and parents complained .. but the standardized tests of my students showed real increases every year. It took a grand total of 5 minutes of class time daily. It was time well spent.

Cere

May 27th, 2011
9:27 pm

@Inman Park May 27th, 2011 1:26 pm – DeKalb county schools collects well over $30 million a year to do exactly that – close the gap between the ‘wealthy’ and the ‘poor’. However, they do not use it to hire support staff who work directly with students in small groups, instead they use it to fund a virtual army of “Instructional Coaches” in an “Office of School Improvement” who mostly tell teachers how to arrange their bulletin boards and give them scripted lessons.

Also – regarding math facts – this is the big aha for parents! Parents are not aware that teachers no longer teach basic math facts as we were taught (I had nuns – talk about drills!) Parents are expected to teach this. In fact, parents are basically also expected to teach early reading – especially if you value phonetics. Get some flash cards people!

Cobb Mom of 4

May 27th, 2011
9:39 pm

Congratulations APS Math Teacher.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Augusta

May 27th, 2011
9:58 pm

APS Math Teacher:

CONGRATULATIONS to your hard-working students and their hard-working, self-effacing teacher.

justin

May 28th, 2011
8:21 am

I would like to think the reason we teach math is to help students better thinkers, not walking calculators….

[...] Cherokee leads metro in grad test scores; Atlanta lands last – Atlanta Journal Constitution (b… [...]

GA parent/teacher

May 28th, 2011
8:55 am

@Maureen
What school systems had the highest graduation rates statewide?

Dunwoody Mom

May 28th, 2011
8:57 am

@APS Math Teacher – I hope you also gave credit to the previous Math teachers for your students. The grad test encompasses everything taught since 9th grade – not just this school year.

GA parent/teacher

May 28th, 2011
8:59 am

@Maureen
What school systems had the highest graduation test scores statewide? There should be a direct correlation between graduation rates and test scores.

TeacherMom4

May 28th, 2011
9:09 am

Lack of basic facts is a huge problem! How are children going to factor numbers or list the multiples in order to work with fractions if they don’t even know basic multiplication? That leads into decimals and percents. When they can’t see how numbers are related, they lack the number sense to understand some pretty important math concepts. Yet we hear all the time, “Children must be engaged” or, “Worksheets don’t grow dendrites.” So we don’t do timed tests and other fact practice to help them get it down. Instead, we teach “strategies” like Catlady was talking about. When schools became a business and students consumers, we went from being concerned about achievement to concern over how entertained the children are. The customer must be satisfied, therefore they must be happy. What makes kids happy? Not putting forth effort but still getting something in return (a good report card grade and passing test scores). You can only play ‘Around the World’ and other math ‘games’ so many times, since kids who don’t want to work are only required to play when it’s their turn–and then they’ll happily get their problem wrong just to get it over with. To hold all kids accountable, they must have work to do that is done independently. But that isn’t fun, so it is discouraged. Until we realize that sometimes school is about the product, not the experience, we will continue to have middle and high school students who can’t function at a basic elementary level.

Ashley

May 28th, 2011
10:31 am

@Teacher Mom4….you are so right, without basic math skills these kids will never be productive. Yes in the world we live in today computers do just about everything. Wouldn’t it be nice to do your own tax-returns or figure out the premiums on your insurance policy, even balancing a checkbook (I know thats passe) all these require, not algebra, geometry or calculus…. just basic math skills. Whether you are white-collar or blue-collar we need them. Some things just shouldn’t be brush aside as outdated, and basic math skills are one of these.

Deputy

May 28th, 2011
12:22 pm

According to the database, Buford City Schools is ranked number 1. Is Buford not part of metro Atlanta?

Really amazed

May 29th, 2011
3:29 am

Isn’t GA doing away with graduation test? Have we ever found out what the TRUE Georgia graduation RATE is??? Remember last year this was an issue. Things were fuzzy!

Dr. Craig Spinks/Augusta

May 29th, 2011
7:34 am

GA parent/teacher:

Six of the seven public school systems with the highest GHSGT passing rates include Buford City, Seminole County, Schley County, Oconee County, Hancock County and Columbia County.

Leona Browm

May 29th, 2011
8:50 am

What about parent involvement! Teachers and schools are ordered what to teach. All students do not learn the same way as they don’t all look the same. When our kids were in school, we often check homework, partially so we would know what they were learning, and we helped if we could.

Most of today’s parents are TOO BUSY to take even ten minutes to look at homework or talk about school. Where are parents priorities! Learning begins when we are born. Why can parents spend so much time on buying STUFF that soon will be broken or ignored and so little time on learning things that will benefit them the rest of their lives!

Miss Priss

May 29th, 2011
10:41 am

Maureen, any idea when CRCT district comparisons will be made available to the public (via AJC or otherwise)?

Maureen Downey

May 29th, 2011
3:15 pm

@Miss, I will check. We were talking about this at work and someone suggested mid June. Maureen