Scores inching upward, but far too slowly

June 26, 2014 

It's good news. Nowhere near good enough, and there's too much bad news attached to it. But at the moment, and in its appropriate context, we'll take it.

Data released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education showed that grades 3-8 in the Muscogee County School District improved their performance on more than half the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs), and narrowed the gap with the state average on more than a third of them.

On 17 of the 30 separate tests in five subjects, a higher percentage of MCSD students passed than in 2013. Third and fifth grades improved in every subject, narrowing the gap with the state average.

Progress of any kind and in any degree is welcome, and this upward trend should be acknowledged.

But it also must be noted that on none of the 30 tests -- not one -- did the district meet the state average. We continue to be plagued with and baffled by the fact that in a state whose educational levels are hardly national models, too many Columbus schools aren't even measuring up to that relatively modest standard.

And while the scores of grades 3 and 5 are encouraging, fourth grade scores fell in every subject. It's a troubling anomaly given the improved performance of students one grade ahead and one behind.

Superintendent David Lewis is understandably pleased with the highlights, but maintains a realistic perspective. He knows the new testing formula that will replace the CRCT next year is expected to be more demanding, which could mean more discouraging local education stats.

More to the point, he knows that whatever the test, scores below the state average in every subject are unacceptable. Lewis has taken on the challenge of turning those numbers upward, and the community will follow future results closely and with great and very vested interest.

ACF water plan

On the subject of things worth following closely, the tri-state water organization ACF Stakeholders announced Thursday that it has funded the final technical studies needed to complete a proposed comprehensive water management plan for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint water basin. That plan is expected to be unveiled this fall.

ACF Stakeholders has been working for five years now to bring interested and informed parties together to resolve issues of water use, rights and responsibilities that have pitted three states, and even regions within the same state, against one another for decades. ACFS describes its mission as goal as "a sustainable water management plan based on science, good data and consensus."

Thus far, "science, good data and consensus" have been sorely lacking in this region's water conflicts -- probably because without the first two, the third is impossible.

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