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June 8, 2004 Extra Credit
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June 8, 2004

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Georgia State Superintendent Calls Recent Student Achievement Gains "Unbelievable"

Last week Georgia State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox announced dramatic reading achievement gains and progress closing the achievement gap among the state's third graders. The following are excerpts from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighting these gains:

"Even though it has one of Georgia's highest percentage of Hispanic students, Gainesville Elementary School, which opened in August, recorded a 90 percent passing rate among its third-graders on the reading exam. Shawn Arevalo McCollough, the principal, said he was aware of the challenges faced at a school where 65 percent of the 500 students are Hispanic. ‘We said from the beginning we were not going to make any excuses,’ he said. He credited the students' success to after-school and Saturday sessions in which they concentrated on reading, language arts and math — the basic sections of the curriculum exam. ‘We outworked everybody,’ McCollough said. ‘That's how we closed the achievement gap.’"

"Statewide, Cox reported the following among third-graders":

  • Nineteen percent of Hispanic students failed the reading exam, an improvement from the 29 percent recorded in 2002. Thirteen percent of African-American students failed, compared with 23 percent two years ago.
  • The greatest failure rate was among students with limited English proficiency, but their performance also improved the most. Thirty-two percent failed the reading exam this year, compared with 52 percent in 2002.
  • Twenty-six percent of special education students did not meet the reading standards. Two years ago, 45 percent failed.

" ‘That is unbelievable,’ Cox said of the results." – The full article is available on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution online archives for a fee. (June 3, 2004)

"Cox cites Morgan as one of the counties that didn't make excuses for its achievement gap, but utilized the alarming data to spark change. … ‘This has not been any one program or any one person,’ [Superintendent] Stokes says. ‘This has been a community deciding that they wanted their schools to be better.’ The county launched after-school tutorials and Saturday programs. Morgan tapped federal and state money to offer intersession weeks in the fall and spring where at-risk students attended math camp and strengthened their reading and writing skills."– The full article is available on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution online archives for a fee. (June 6, 2004)

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Last Modified: 07/31/2006