Top North Georgia schools that gained the most in third- or eighth-grade grade reading:
School // Increase from last year
City Park School // 13 percent
Park Creek Elementary // 10 percent
Cedar Ridge Elementary // 8.3 percent
Fairyland Elementary // 4.5 percent
Schools that lost the most in third- or eighth-grade reading:
Mountain Creek Academy // -9.4 percent
Westwood Elementary // -8.36 percent
Pleasant Grove Elementary // -8.31 percent
Eton Elementary // -5 percent
Schools that gained the most in third- or eighth-grade math:
Cedar Ridge Elementary // 24.37 percent
Davis Elementary // 14.7 percent
Roan Elementary // 14.3 percent
Eastside Elementary //14 percent
Schools that lost the most in third- or eighth-grade math:
Valley Point Elementary // -17 percent
Tolbert Elementary // -16.3 percent
Dug Gap Elementary // -14.5 percent
Rock Springs Elementary // -12.5 percent
Source: Georgia Department of Education
Third-graders at Boynton Elementary School posted a 100 percent passing rate on state reading tests for the second year in a row, an achievement Principal Gina Haynes credits to dedicated teachers and the use of more visual aids to help her Catoosa County students understand subjects.
Teachers devoted extra time for students struggling in reading and math by putting them into smaller groups during class periods, Haynes said. Teachers also set aside time for struggling students, and as those students mastered concepts, others were brought into the group.
"Our teachers are phenomenal," she said.
State education officials released school-by-school results of this year's Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests for third- through eight-graders. The annual tests measure student performance in five subjects: reading, math, science, social studies and language. Math and science scores showed the most variation in North Georgia schools.
In late June, the Georgia Department of Education released 2012 school system results, showing North Georgia schools saw more improvement in reading than math. Of six North Georgia school systems, all finished behind the state average for third-grade math scores.
The test results released this week placed a microscope on whether schools in each district are improving in core subjects.
Third-grade math scores at Cedar Ridge Elementary School in Whitfield County improved the most in the region, with a 24 percent increase in the number of students who met or exceeded state standards. However, two other Whitfield County schools, Valley Point and Dug Gap elementaries, had double-digit increases in the percentage of students who did not meet state standards.
Some educators credit the increase in students meeting the standard in math to programs that focus on making sure students grasp the concepts and apply them to problem solving.
"The biggest thing we did was revisit our math program to try intervention strategies," said Dade County Middle School Principal Karen de Marche.
The strategy seemed to pay off with 9.5 percent more Dade Middle students meeting or exceeding the standard in eighth-grade math.
In Chickamauga City Schools, 88 percent of Gordon Lee Middle School students met or exceeded the standard in eighth-grade math, a nearly 11 percent increase from last year.
Reading showed more consistent improvements across the school districts.
In Catoosa County Schools -- where earlier results showed the district had the biggest gains in improving reading and math scores -- nine of the 11 elementary or middle schools improved in third- or eighth-grade reading. Less than half the schools improved in third- or eighth-grade math.
Another trend educators saw as a positive sign was an increase in passing scores at some of the lower-income schools.
Dalton City Schools had some of the highest improvements in students who met or exceeded the standard in math and reading in some of the district's poorest schools.
City Park School, where 89 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced- price lunches, those who met or exceeded the standard in third-grade reading jumped 13 percent. At Park Creek Elementary, where nearly 77 percent of students passed math in 2011, 88 percent passed in 2012.
"It's a tribute to hard work and believing all children can learn," said Dalton Assistant Superintendent Rhonda Hayes.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...