VALDOSTA — Members of the Lowndes County Board of Education heard presentations on the standardized test scores within the school system during its monthly board meeting Monday.

Iris Mathis, director of teaching and learning grades K-5, and Sharon Flythe, director of teaching and learning grades 6-12, spoke to board members concerning the increasing and competitive test scores of students within the Lowndes system amid a rising standard of learning expectancies and the steady transition to new performance standards throughout the state.

Reviewing scores of elementary grade students on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test taken in 2006, Lowndes had a higher number of students to meet or exceed RESA and State performances, with overall exceeding percentages ranging from 87.3 percent to 95.4 percent in various subject categories. Educators consider the scores a remarkable achievement, as students were tested on the more rigorous Georgia Performance Standards in some areas, which were just implemented in classes and on the CRCT during the 2005-06 school year.

“By 2009, all grade levels will be learning from the new Georgia Performance Standards. This year students in grades K-12 began the new English/Language Arts standards, but sixth graders were hit the heaviest of all because they were also introduced to new standards in math and science,” said Mathis.

“Before phasing in GPS across the board, our teachers must first be trained on the material. We send academic coaches from our schools to receive training, and over the course of a year, training teams within each school work with teachers on various grade levels, preparing them to implement the information in the curriculum the following school term.”

During the current school year, students will be assessed on the new GPS in mathematics in grades 1, 2, and 7, and science in grades 3–5.

Combined, both middle schools exceeded RESA and state test scores in four of five academic subject areas and writing, with the only exception being a three point difference between system and state average in eighth grade math performances.

Continuing the trend of excellence throughout the system, high school students likewise surpassed region and state scores on the High School Graduation Test, with nearly 80 percent of first-time test takers passing the science portion, and an average of 93 percent of first-time test takers passing the subjects of Math, Social Studies and Writing.

In addition to new GPS in English/Language Arts, high school students were also introduced to new science standards during the 2005-06 year. This year grades 9-12 will begin focusing on GPS in Social Studies, and math will be introduced in the following term.

Superintendent Steve Smith spoke to the board concerning the request for a classroom size waiver from the state, as the possibility of growing student enrollment poses a threat under recent legislation.

“We have about a 200 student increase from last school year, and there was a tremendous increase at Hahira and Pine Grove Elementary Schools. We had to make some adjustments and add two new second grade teachers within the system to comply with the state’s requirement for smaller class sizes. Currently, we have about two classes that are only about five or six students away from being over the limit,” Smith said.

“The state has granted a little bit of flexibility in the matter, however. Effective today, we can request a class size waiver if we think any of our classes may be oversized by the first FTE count (Full Time Equivalent, used to determine governmental subsidies for students), but it won’t be granted if we’re already over the limit at the time we apply. With the realignment of Moody, families could come in at any time, possibly just after our first FTE count, placing our class sizes one or two over the limit. They suggested that we notify them now if there may be an issue; otherwise, we may lose funding for every student in an oversized class.”

Following the discussion, the board approved the recommendation in the consent agenda.

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