The implementation of the new Georgia Performance Standards into the curricula and the accompanying end-of-year Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) has produced an alarming outcome in Fulton County’s public schools: Black students are falling further behind in middle school math.
Martha Greenway, the county’s deputy superintendent for organizational advancement, revealed the trend to the Board of Education at its work session Sept. 9.
“What we’re finding in the areas of reading and language arts is a pattern that we’d like to see,” Greenway said, with rising scores across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups and shrinking differences among those groups. For example, more than 90 percent of the eighth-graders in each group met or exceeded expectations on the reading CRCT last year.
Math, however, is another problem.
Except for Asian-Americans, all groups’ math scores dropped last year with the new standards, which are tougher and are tied to more difficult tests, but the decline for black students was more dramatic, Greenway said.
She said poor black students always have scored the worst in math, and that is still the case. But other black students used to do as well as poor white students. Now all black students, regardless of economic status, are lagging far behind.
Greenway and Superintendent Cindy Loe, who took over the school system in April, vowed to attack the achievement gap by digging into what does and doesn’t work at each school.
School board Vice President Linda Bryant, the only black member of the board, called the data “disheartening.”
She urged administrators to “put in place whatever it may take to pull these scores up.”
The gap data were part of Greenway’s presentation on the state of student achievement in the school system. Her presentation showed how the new curriculum standards have produced lower CRCT scores throughout the system.
“I never anticipated the drops that I see here,” said board member Gail Deans, whose district includes most of Sandy Springs. “I’m just devastated.”