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Georgia Shows Strong Gains on National Writing Test

 Media Contact:   - Dana Tofig, GaDOE, , (404) 463-1487    Charts and Data      April 3, 2008  -- Georgia's 8th graders are scoring at the national average in writing, according to test results released Thursday.     The results of the 2007 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that 88 percent of Georgia 8th graders scored at or above basic proficiency levels, one point higher than the nation. This was a six-point jump for Georgia since 2002, the last time the NAEP writing test was given.     "These NAEP results offer further proof that our new curriculum is making a big difference," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "There is no doubt in my mind that the rigor and focus of our new standards is having a positive impact in the classroom."     Superintendent Cox said Georgia's teachers are doing a great job implementing the new curriculum, which emphasizes writing across all subject areas, the Georgia Performance Standards.     "In the 21st century, the ability to take information and ideas and relay them clearly and concisely is more important than ever," Superintendent Cox said. "Writing is not just a skill that should be used in English class. Our new curriculum demands the use of writing and communication skills in every subject area."     The NAEP is given to a representative sample of students in every state. Scores are on a scale of 0 to 300 and are broken into four categories -- below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. Georgia students in grade 8 took the NAEP writing exam last school year. The students who were tested had been taught using the state's new Reading/English Language Arts curriculum for two years.     Georgia's 8th graders scored a 153, up six points from 2002. Georgia's score was one point lower than the nation (154). But just like a public opinion poll, there is a margin of error, which makes these scores statistically equal.     Georgia's African-American and Hispanic students made significant gains on the NAEP writing test.     The scale score for Georgia's African-American students rose to 144, a jump of six points since 2002 and four points higher than the national average (140) for African-American students.     Hispanic students in Georgia scored 142 on the NAEP writing test, an increase of 31 points from 2002 and one point higher than the national average (141) for Hispanic students.     Superintendent Cox said Georgia has a strong commitment to building students' writing skills. For instance, Georgia is one of few states that tests students in writing at every level of education -- elementary (grades 3 & 5), middle (grade 8) and high school (grade 11).    STATE RESULTS MIRROR PROGRESS      The good news in writing is further supported by the performance of 8th graders on the state writing test they took in January.    "National and state results lead to the same conclusion -- Georgia students are making tremendous progress in writing," Superintendent Cox said.     About 77 percent of students met or exceeded standards on the Grade 8 Writing Assessment -- a 10 point jump from 2007.     Georgia's African-American and Hispanic students also showed dramatic gains on the state writing test. About 69 percent of African-American students met or exceeded standards, an increase of 11 points from 2007. Also, 71 percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded standards, an increase of 15 points in one year.   MORE INFORMATION  -  Charts and Data  -  NAEP Website    Grade 8 Writing Test  -  Statewide Results  -  Results by District  -  Results by School