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Dawson County students in third through eighth grades are showing gains in their Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, or CRCT, scores despite their teachers having to deal with less funding and materials, officials say.

The 2013 results released recently by the state show improvement in the percentage of students "meeting and exceeding" the standards on 18 of the 30 content-area tests. In addition, there was no change in performance on seven tests and a decline on five others.

Students also posted an increase in the "exceeds performance" rating in 24 of the 30 content areas.

Rick Brown, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, hailed the performance of Dawson County students.

"We fair very respectively in our district," he said. "Our RESA district is the highest performing district in the state, so I think we're holding our own."

The school system is in the same Regional Educational Service Agency district as Hall, Rabun, Lumpkin, Banks, Fannin and seven other counties.

Dawson County Superintendent Keith Porter said that local students are doing well.

"We compare favorably with surrounding or comparable school systems in student achievement," he said. "Each year, we have those measures that indicate strength and some that indicate challenges which we will be working to improve. "

According to Brown, even if scores appear as if they drop from year to year, they're not as low as people may think.

"Sometimes we'll see that the highest score in our district is a 98 percentile and we may be fourth of fifth down from the top," he said. "But we're in 95 percentile. It's still very high, but we are in one of the highest scoring regions."

When scores decline, he said, the board of education meets with school administrators to address any issues the students may be having.

"A few years ago, our fourth-grade math was not where we wanted it to be, so we talked to our administrators, who addressed the issue," Brown said. "Since then, it has gotten better since we focused on it."

Porter agreed, saying the efforts are usually taken to ensure students are learning what they need to get ahead in life.

"We analyze scores by grade levels, subjects and various groups of students to make sure that we can focus our efforts," he said.

According to Brown, the data collected from the CRCT is used for schools to map out the curriculum for the coming year. The scores offer a comparison of how each school fared in previous years, and also help provide target goals for the upcoming school year.