BHS Beats State, R2 Averages

Westwood Lags Behind on EOC Exams

RICHLAND – Blythewood High School scored above the district average on each of the four End of Course tests in 2013 and above the state average on three of four tests, while Westwood scored below the district and state averages on each of the four tests, according to data released by the S.C. Department of Education last week. The End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP) provides tests in high school core courses and for courses taken in middle school for high school credit. These four tests are Algebra 1/Math for the Technologies 2; Biology 1/ Applied Biology 2; English 1; and US History & Constitution.

Algebra 1

Blythewood High School students turned in an average score of 77.8 on their Algebra exams, with 21.9 percent earning As and Bs (scoring at 85 percent or higher). Blythewood High had an overall passing rate (scoring a D or better) of 82.3 percent. Westwood students, meanwhile, averaged a score of 73, with only 6.8 percent scoring A and B. Westwood had an overall passing rate of 66.2 percent. Both were below the Richland 2 average of 79.9, where 32.6 percent scored a B or higher and 84.6 percent scored D or higher. Statewide, average scores were 80.6, with a 41.1 percent overall passing rate and 37.1 scoring B or higher.

Math scores reported for the high schools are impacted by scores from middle school students taking the Algebra EOC exam. Algebra is historically taken in high school, but students in middle school can do advanced math work and take algebra in middle school and receive high school credit for the course. All of the average scores for every Richland 2 middle school were above the district average. Blythewood Middle School, which feeds into Blythewood High, earned an average score of 91.8, with 85.3 percent of their students scoring an A or B with a 100 percent overall passing rate. Muller Road Middle, which feeds into Westwood High, had an average score of 82.6, with 38.5 percent of their students earning an A or B and 95 percent scoring D or better.

Biology

In Biology, Blythewood High scored slightly above the district average with a score of 82.5 and 47.8 percent scoring a B or higher. Blythewood turned in an overall passing rate of 82.2 percent, also above the district average of 79.6 percent. Westwood showed an average score of 77, with an overall passing rate of 71.9 percent and 28 percent scoring B or better. The Richland 2 average score was 81.2, with a 79.6 percent passing rate and 42.8 percent scoring A or B. The statewide average score in Biology was 81.3, with a 78.3 percent passing rate and 44 percent scoring B or better.

English

Blythewood also bested the district and state averages in English, while Westwood was not far off the mark. Blythewood tallied an average score of 81.5 in English, with an overall passing rate of 86.7 percent and 36.9 percent scoring B or higher. Westwood averaged 77 on the exam, with an overall passing rate of 66.4 percent and 16.2 percent scoring A and B. Statewide, the average score was 77.9 in 2013, with an overall passing rate of 77.3 percent and 18.2 percent scoring B or higher. The Richland 2 average score was 77.7, with an overall passing rate of 76.5 percent and 27.8 percent scoring A and B.

History

In U.S. History and the Constitution, Blythewood earned an average score of 76, above the state average of 72.7 and the district average of 72.9. Blythewood students had an overall passing rate of 78.7 percent, with 17.4 percent earning As and Bs. Statewide, the overall passing rate was 60.6 percent, with 13.3 percent scoring B or higher, while in Richland 2, the overall passing rate was 63.9 percent with 11.5 percent scoring B or better. Westwood showed an average score of 69.7, with an overall passing rate of 50.9 percent and only 4.1 percent scoring B or higher.

Contributing Factors

Learning is one of the four focus squares recently identified by Richland 2 Superintendent Debbie Hamm. Last week while reporting on SAT and ACT scores, Hamm told The Voice that several factors that contribute to academic achievement within the district are transience (20 percent turnover every two years) and increasing poverty. Understanding the factors that play into achievement and not allowing them to become excuses for both the district and students have been important as the district laid out a proactive plan for the 2013-2014 school year.

While published research supports the need for addressing the impact that poverty has on learning, Richland 2 is a study in itself. The Richland 2 School District has a poverty rate of 47.48 percent; Blythewood High School, 32 percent; Blythewood Middle, 31 percent; Westwood High, 53 percent; and Muller Road Middle, 44 percent.

Poverty and transience are being tackled head-on with professional development from the Frances Marion University Center for Excellence. The Center focuses teaching district personnel the facets of poverty and how to teach students of poverty so that they can achieve academically. The addition of social workers in the district will work to erase learning obstacles like hunger, medical needs and deficient family dynamics.

James Denton contributed to this story.

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