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Southern Eyes

For those who haven't heard, our state school superintendent is smarter than a fifth grader. It was good news to hear, but I did wonder if she could outshine our eighth graders.

As an education reporter, statewide school testing has occupied a lot of my attention since last spring. I've read/discussed/researched/written so much on the subject that the A-Y-P's and C-R-C-T's on my keyboard are worn.

In a nutshell, the new school curriculum and the corresponding tests implemented by the state seem to have presented a challenge for middle schools across the state. The fact that some of the eighth grade tests didn't actually correspond with the curriculum didn't help matters, either.

As a result, social studies tests and scores were "thrown out" and schools were allowed to include summer school and retests in their math tests scores. While Thomson Middle School students scored better than seven of our neighboring counties on the test last spring, they still didn't make the grade. Thankfully, after attending summer school and retaking the test, our middle school has made AYP.

CRCTs are given to third, fifth and eighth graders, which brings me back to the state superintendent. A couple of weeks ago, Superintendent Kathy Cox was a contestant on the game show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" Not only did Superintendent Cox prove she could pass the fifth grade test, but she was the first contestant to win $1 million.

And what she did with her winnings showed what a really smart woman she is. Superintendent Cox donated her $1 million to three schools: Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon; Atlanta Area School for the Deaf in Clarkston and Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring. The Superintendent received a lot of criticism for appearing on the show. But she received even more support. I, for one, just found it to be a breath of fresh air. In these days of political unrest and economical bleakness, having the state's educational chief appear on an educational game show and having fun, winning and then giving away her winnings wasn't anything earth-shattering. It was just nice to have something to smile about.

As if that wasn't enough, I had the opportunity to sit in with McDuffie County's second graders as they talked with Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry last week. From what I heard, McDuffie County students will be scoring so well on their social studies CRCT in six years that they'll be able to keep the whole state afloat for AYP.

The middle school made AYP, the superintendent won a $1 million, the future looks bright for our students.

Everybody wins.

And I get to keep on smiling.

Web posted on Thursday, September 18, 2008

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