Cobb tops state, metro average on annual writing test
by Rachel Gray
December 14, 2013 12:08 AM | 2264 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Nearly every 11th-grader in a Cobb County public school passed this year’s Georgia High School Writing Test, outperforming the average for both the state and the metro Atlanta area.

At Marietta High School, 98 percent of students tested either met or exceeded standards, surpassing both the state at 94 percent and the metro Atlanta’s average of 95 percent.

Broken down into groups, 99 percent of black students, 98 percent of white students and 97 percent of Hispanic students at Marietta High School passed the state’s writing test.

“Our ongoing focus on integrating and developing writing skills for effective academic, business and social communication is once again evidenced by our student’s performance on this year’s test,” said Emily Lembeck, the Marietta city school superintendent.

Carla Mills, who has been an 11th-grade English teacher for eight years, said Marietta High School offered a few afternoon sessions right before the test was administered, but the English department actually starts prepping the students in 10th grade.

As soon as their 11th-grade year begins, Mills said Marietta High School students spend the first four to six weeks focused on the exam.

On the first day of class, they write an essay, which is graded as a baseline for what should be improved and problems to address, Mills said.

Passing the test

For the Cobb County school district, the percentage of first-time test takers who passed was 98 percent, unchanged from 2012. All 16 of the district’s high schools had a pass rate of 90 percent or better.

The percentage of students meeting or exceeding performance expectations at Osborne High School grew by 4 percent over last year, the biggest gain districtwide.

Scores for English language learners increased from last year’s 79 percent, to 81 percent for 2013.

One of the only groups who dropped in Cobb was special education students, who passed the test at 85 percent, compared to 89 percent in the prior school year.

The writing test requires students to produce a composition of no more than two pages based on one question, with a 100-minute time allotment.

Georgia high school students must pass the test to earn a regular education diploma, but are given many chances their junior and senior year.

The test is an “indicator of basic proficiency in writing,” Mills said.

Mills said she coaches her students to include examples, statistics or anecdotes, and stick with one idea per paragraph.

The question for the test this year was about community service, Mills said, but past questions have asked if students perform better at a school that requires uniforms.

Mills said the goal for each essay is to be persuasive and convincing.

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December 15, 2013
Put aside all articles about education in Cobb County. Cobb County needs to get back to "reading, writing, and arithmetic" and less about radical teachers wanting to make $200,000 plus; sports programs; music programs, etc. I think most educators have lost sight of true education. Let's bring back the Laura Ingalls Wilder's for five years; then work on the Taj Mahal, not the other way around that Cobb has done. Let's take care of the deficit for basic education, then worry about asking for money for paying teachers more and building the extra programs. And weed out the teachers that are just in it for the enormous time off. Teachers make a fair salary now with retirement benefits beyond compare. Arguments to the contrary are just the "give me mo' crowd." Classroom sizes SHOULD increase as technology takes over. Get with 2013 and beyond. Laura Ingalls Wilder did not have the Internet, yet she understood the role of a teacher. To teach; not to make a salary, more time off, more benefits, etc. far above the rest of her equal peers. And to anyone that compares a teacher to a babysitter should be kicked out of the profession altogether.
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