The scores, which reflect district-wide averages and do not include individual schools, measure student performance on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test during the 2013-14 school year.
Cobb County students scored lower on fifth- and eighth-grade math, while Marietta students scored lower on third- and fifth-grade math.
“The new math is more rigorous,” said Marietta City Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck. “Not only is the math more rigorous, it requires students to explain their thinking. There is more text for them to read.”
The drops in fifth-grade math were the most pronounced. Cobb’s percentage of students meeting or exceeding math standards dropped from 92.9 percent in 2013 to 90.7 percent this year. Marietta’s students’ scores dropped from 92.8 percent to 87.3 percent.
“We really have to better understand where the deficits are and if in fact the curriculum is more rigorous, learn what we need to do to help students,” Lembeck said.
The previous standards were known as the Georgia Performance Standards, while the new ones are called the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.
Lembeck said student scores often drop in the first year of a new curriculum. She said next year’s students will have more familiarity with the test material, as will their teachers.
“If you’re a fourth-grader that’s gone through it in third grade, you should have a better foundation,” she said.
The CRCT tests students in five subject areas: reading, English/language arts, math, science and social studies.
The math scores weren’t all negative. The percentage of Cobb third-graders meeting or exceeding standards increased from 82.1 percent to 83.9 percent.
Marietta eighth-graders also scored higher than the class before them, with 78.2 percent meeting or exceeding math standards, compared to 75.7 percent in 2013.
Eighth-grade students in both Marietta and Cobb had a larger percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in science and social studies compared to last year.
“Any time we see an increase in the test scores, we’re pleased,” said Greg Ewing, Cobb’s chief accountability and research officer. “It shows dedication from our faculty, parents and students.”
Ewing said data from test scores is used to tailor instruction to individual classrooms, and cautioned that comparing scores from year to year isn’t always accurate.
“Each year, the number of students taking the test will vary,” he said. “There could be small percentage changes, we won’t know the significance until we see the individual school scores.”
The CRCT, which Ewing said dates back at least to his early years of teaching in the 1980s, is being replaced with a new test next year called the Georgia Milestones Assessment System.
Ewing said the new test is designed to more closely measure what’s being taught in the classroom.
“The new test will be more aligned to the curriculum and it may actually present more challenges,” Ewing said. “We are still learning what that test will entail.”
Lembeck said she’s looking forward to the new test.
“Rather than the CRCT, it will be the end-of-grade tests,” Lembeck said. “We have a new assessment to look forward to and I’ll have to see how we’ll be able to show growth.”
School-level CRCT results will be released by the state July 10.