District Shows Improvement on Finals

FAIRFIELD –Average scores on the 2013 End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP) showed moderate improvement over 2012 scores in three out of four subject areas for Fairfield County students, according to data released by the S.C. Department of Education this week. And while the percentage of test takers earning an A went up in many subjects, the percentage of those scoring F plummeted dramatically in some areas.

District-wide, 212 students were tested in Algebra 1/Mathematics for the Technologies 2; 74 in Biology 1/Applied Biology 2; 194 in English 1; and 187 in U.S. History and the Constitution. The exams count for 80 percent of a student’s final course score.

The percentage of students scoring an A in Algebra was up slightly from 4.5 percent in 2012 to 5.7 percent in 2013. Those scoring a B were up from 15.6 percent in 2012 to 23.6 percent in 2013, while those scoring a C were up from 18.1 percent in 2012 to 30.7 percent in 2013. Students scoring a D were also up a few points, from 22.1 percent in 2012 to 23.6 percent in 2013. But the percentage of students scoring an F dropped by more than half, from 39.7 percent in 2012 to 16.5 percent in 2013. The average score rose from 73.8 in 2012 to 79.1 in 2013.

“Algebra 1 is a ‘foundation course’ in high school,” J.R. Green, Superintendent of Fairfield County Schools, said. “If we can get kids to establish a strong foundation in Algebra 1, it will transition with them throughout high school.”

Green said math teachers in the District have fully bought into available technology in the last year, particularly in the form of a new graphing calculator, which has translated into higher test scores.

“Scotty Dean and Ryan Sharpe have embraced (the new technology) fully,” Green said, “and that gets kids more engaged and excited about learning math.”

The average score in Biology also increased over 2012 results, from 73.1 to 79. While the percentage of students earning an F were down only slightly (from 39.7 percent in 2012 to 35.1 in 2013), the percentage of students earning As and Bs skyrocketed. In 2012, only 7.5 percent of test-takers earned an A, and only 10.6 percent a B; but in 2013, those figures jumped to 21.6 and 24.3 percent, respectively. The percentage of students earning a D was also down dramatically, from 26.1 to 4.1 percent.

“Jane Wilson, our Teacher of the Year, is an extraordinary biology teacher,” Green said. “She may have had 10-15 As (on the exam) with a passing rate in the 90s.”

English 1 remains a troubled spot for students across the state and Fairfield County followed suit, as the average score slipped from 72.6 in 2012 to 71.3 in 2013. None of the 194 students tested earned an A in 2013 (2.5 percent in 2012), and the percentage of Bs went down from 13.1 in 2012 to 9.3 in 2013. The percentage of Cs and Ds were up, as were the percentage of Fs. The statewide average score was 77.9 in 2013, with an overall passing rate of 77.2 percent.

“English is not where we want it to be,” Green said. “We want to be in English where we are in math. We want to get (our average score) to around 80.”

Students also continue to struggle with History, both District and statewide, with the District average score coming in at 63.2 and with no students earning an A. Statewide, the average score was 72.7, with a passing rate of 60.6 percent for students across South Carolina.

“U.S. History and the Constitution is the most concerning subject,” Green said. “The results have been poor over many years. Statewide, the results have been poor. There are questions about the standards, and about whether or not we can teach everything in a single year. We are having conversations about things we need to do to be more successful.”

Advanced students and other students willing to take on the challenge at Fairfield Middle School also take these End of Course exams. In 2013, 50 Middle School students took the Algebra exam, while 29 took the English exam. Middle School test-takers produced an average score of 85.1 in Algebra and 82 in English in 2013 with no students producing Fs in either subject.

“We were pleased to see that all students who took the Algebra 1 and English 1 tests (at the Middle School level) were successful,” Green said.

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