Recently released End-of-Course Examination (EOCEP) results showed the beginning of some serious improvement in academic performance among Fairfield County Students.
Including tests in biology, algebra, U.S. history and English, the EOCEP tests students in middle school who are taking high school level courses and tests high school students.
EOCEP test results count for 20 percent of each student’s final grade in that course area.
One area in which Fairfield excelled was the performance of middle school students taking Algebra I or English I.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Academics Dr. Claudia Edwards, “97.7 percent of middle school students who took Algebra I and English I passed successfully.”
Those students are taking high school coursework in middle school, adding rigor to their curriculum in a way that enables them to take more advanced courses, such as college level courses, later in their high school careers.
Though the younger students were a bright spot, the percentage of high school students was passed Algebra I dropped from 52.4 in 2011 to 49.7 in 2012.
The rate of high school students passing U.S. History and the Constitution fell from 24.3 percent to 12.7 percent.
“As a district we recognize that significant improvement needs to be made in the number of students who pass the EOC tests in U.S. History and Algebra I. However, we are pleased with the substantial growth demonstrated in the number of students who passed the EOC in Biology I and English I,” said Edwards.
Average score increases were noted in the district for Algebra I, Biology I and English I and the percentage of students passing those three content areas increased by .7 percent to as much as 22.5 percent in 2012.
A substantial number of district students passed Biology I compared to a year ago with an increase from 37.8 percent to 60.3 percent.
According to the State Department of Education, overall in South Carolina the passage rate and average score for South Carolina students increased in Biology, English, and U.S. History and the Constitution.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais noted that while gains were made in English, 26 percent of students received a failing grade. The English exam is usually administrated in the ninth grade.
“Reading is the foundational skill in education. The English End-of-Course exam results add more data to a troubling trend: far too many students lack the reading skills necessary to be successful in high school,” Zais said. “Improving reading skills in kindergarten through eighth grade must be a top priority in order to improve student achievement on high school assessments.”
Fairfield County showed improvement in English I with 60.1 percent of students passing versus just 47.5 percent a year ago. Even so, nearly 40 percent of students did not pass the exam, giving credence to Zais’ concerns about the overall status of the South Carolina education system.
Statewide, there was a drop in the number of students passing Algebra I, but the average score increased for students.
Biology saw the greatest improvements in both percent pass (8.3 percent) and average score (3.2 points). Every student subgroup made gains in the Biology passage rate and average score, and most made gains in English and U.S. History and the Constitution passage rates and average scores.
“The credit for student achievement gains belongs to hard working students, parents, and teachers,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais. “Measuring student achievement is an important tool to improving instructional practices. End-of-Course assessments demonstrate how well high school students have mastered key concepts and skills they will use after graduation.”
Data regarding reducing achievement gaps in passage rates and average scores was mixed. The gaps between white and Hispanic students closed, as well as the gaps between full-price meal students and free/reduced price lunch students. Achievement gaps widened between white and African-American students, non-disabled students and disabled students, and English-language students and students with limited English-language proficiency.
In Fairfield County 41.3 percent of African-American students failed Algebra I versus 32.1 percent of their white counterparts. And 82 percent of disabled students did not pass Algebra I versus 34.1 percent of non-disabled students. In Biology I the discrepancy when demographics were considered was 42 percent of African-American students failing versus 29 percent of white students failing. There was little difference between the two categories for U.S. History with over 87 percent of students failing to pass that area in Fairfield County.