More students pass writing test
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
November 30, 2012 12:45 AM | 1278 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A higher percentage of Cherokee County School District students passed the 2012 Georgia High School Writing Test than last year, according to a Thursday release from district officials.

Overall, 99 percent of the district’s 2,145 11th grade students passed the test administered this fall. That’s an increase from 98 percent in fall 2011.

“This exciting news comes on the heels of SAT and ACT results putting CCSD students in the lead statewide for academic achievement, which is a testament not only to their hard work, but also the dedication of teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and everyone in our community who advocates for our students and our public schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo in the release.

CCSD also exceeded the state’s performance averages of 97 percent.

Each high school’s percent passage rate is as follows: Cherokee at 99 percent, Creekview at 100 percent, Etowah at 98 percent, River Ridge at 99 percent, Sequoyah at 98 percent and Woodstock at 99 percent.

District students with disabilities also exceeded Georgia’s overall results with 88 percent passing as compared to the state’s rate of 72 percent.

Additionally, the district’s English Language Learners also exceeded the statewide average with 79 percent passing as compared to 70 percent statewide.

Creekview Assistant Principal Robin Fletcher, a former English teacher, said her school takes writing very seriously by continuing to build on writing skills throughout all four years of high school.

She said this strategy is also applied to English Language Learners and special education students.

“(Those teachers) attend department meetings and follow the same formats traditional English teachers do,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said writing is one of the most important skills a student can take away from his or her high school experience.

“It doesn’t matter what you do in life, you will always take writing with you,” Fletcher said. “As a former English teacher, I can attest to that.”

Petruzielo said high achievement throughout the district continues despite unprecedented funding challenges and changing demographics.

The district has faced $147.5 million in educational funding cuts from the state since 2002 despite an increase in student enrollment of 12,000.

“These dramatic ‘austerity’ cuts, coupled with diminishing local funding, has led to larger class sizes, a shorter school calendar and fewer teachers,” Petruzielo said.

Additionally, more than 36 percent of district students receive free or reduced price lunches, which is up from 19 percent in 2004.

All 11th–grade students are required to pass the Georgia High School Writing Test to show mastery of essential writing skills and earn a regular education diploma. The two-hour test includes 100 minutes of student writing time in response to a writing prompt.

The test is administered three times each year so students have multiple opportunities to pass it before the end of 12th grade.

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