Bainbridge-- Since the state board of education told Georgia schools to put the Georgia Performance Standards, or GPS curriculum into effect, Hutto Middle School students and teachers have worked hard to adapt. "I rewrote all of my tests, GPS standards led the way so I could be sure we were covering them," said Faye Smith, a social studies teacher. "We've posted our standards. We've taught by the standards. We've tested by the standards," added Dr. Susan Grubbs, and 8th grade math teacher as well as department head.
They were shocked when they got the state test results back this week to learn 50% of their 8th graders failed the math test. "These are students who passed their regular class. These are students who passed the local benchmark tests that were designed just like the state given test," explained HMS principal, Dr. Marvin Van Thomas.
"My first thought when I saw the results was 'Golly, I think they have the wrong answer key for the test.' My next thought was, there's something horribly wrong with the process, somewhere," said Dr. Suzi Bonifay, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
On the 7th grade social studies test, only 22% of students passed, in 6th: just 18%. "Whether there was a design flaw, whether the alignment was not there, I don't know. Whether there was an issue with scoring?" Bonifay wondered. She said they've spoken with school systems in other counties and they're seeing similarly surprising numbers.
They're questioning the state, and still waiting for answers. "No statement they can make at this point will undo the harm that they've already done. That's pretty irreprable.You can't un-do the way you make teachers feel. The way you make students and parents feel," said Bonifay.
"My students cried. I mean they cried. And I had kids who exceeded in every other subject and then failed math. And some of these students are the same ones who exceeded last year, have A's in my class," said Grubbs.
"Teachers feelings were hurt. Students were crying, parents were crying. All because everybody felt that we should have done better," said Thomas. Now teachers are dropping everything to spend the last few days of school giving students math boot camp so they don't have to go to summer school. They'll re-take the test at the beginning of the summer and hope for better results.
Educators in Decatur county say they heard the state board of education launched an investigation into the problem but have not yet reported any of their findings.