Fairfield EOC, Ready to Work scores decline, lag behind

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County schools experienced a setback in a key assessment that counts as 20 percent of a student’s final grade in core subjects, mirroring a similar slide in statewide results.

The Fairfield County School District scores declined from spring, 2017 to spring, 2018 in three of four core subjects on the End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP), according to data the S.C. Department of Education released in October. Fairfield Central High School’s mean scores on the EOCEP declined from last year in all four subjects.

Core subjects of testing consist of Algebra 1, English 1, Biology 1 and U.S. History and the Constitution. Students must pass each course at some point before they are awarded a high school diploma.

The district also struggled on the Ready to Work exam, a new career-readiness exam that all 11th graders are required to take.

The generally declining performances on the EOCEP and the lagging Ready to Work scores come in spite of the district leading the state in per pupil revenues, at $21,803 per student in 2017-2018, according to Department of Education figures.

Dr. J.R. Green, district superintendent, couldn’t be reached for comment.

At the district’s board of trustees meeting Nov. 13, Green said that students are being over-tested.

“We have been on this hyper assessment wheel for 20-plus years now. It has been absolutely counterproductive,” Green said. “This is going to be controversial, but the testing industry is a business. It’s a business to keep us on the hyper-accountability movement.

“People think that is how you measure schools,” Green continued. “People think that is how you improve schools.”

Fairfield’s performance stands in contrast to the district’s SAT scores for 2018, which shot up 60 points from the year before.

Only 41 Fairfield County high school students took the SAT, while between 138 and 195 took various individual portions of the EOCEP, according to the S.C. Department of Education.

How FCHS students performed

The bright spot for FCHS students was in English 1 where the percentage of students scoring an A rose from -0- in 2017 to 3.6 in 2018. The percentage of students scoring an F – defined as 0 to 59 percent – in English 1, however, increased from 33.1 percent in 2017 to 42.8 percent in 2018.

FCHS test takers struggled most on Algebra 1, figures show. Percentages of students scoring an A in Algebra 1 dropped from 1.2 percent in 2017 to -0- students scoring an A in 2018. More than half (54.3 percent) scored an F on Algebra 1 in 2018, a 14.2 percent increase over the 40.1 percent who scored an F on Algebra in 2017.

Fewer students scored an A on Biology 1, dropping from 17.8 percent last year to 6.7 percent this year. Percentages of students scoring an F in Biology 1 increased from 38.8 percent in 2017 to 41 percent in 2018.

The percentage of students scoring an A in U.S. History and the Constitution dropped from 2 percent last year to 1.1 percent this year. While more than half the students (52.5 percent) taking the test scored an F in 2018, that was an improvement over the 55 percent who scored an F in 2017, figures show.

The mean scores of FCHS students were also down in all four subjects tested.

  • Algebra 1 – 63.3 (2017) to 58.6 (2018), down 4.7
  • Biology 1 – 67.6 (2017 ) to 65.2 (2018), down 2.4
  • English 1 – 64.1  (2017) to 63.7 (2018), down 0.4
  • U.S. History and Constitution – 60.5 (2017) to 60.3 (2018), down 0.2

The mean scores of the District as a whole were similarly down from last year with the exception of English 1 which showed a 0.7 increase.

On the new Ready to Work exam, Fairfield performed behind 2018 state averages.

Ready to Work (R2W) is a career readiness assessment administered to all eleventh grade students to determine student achievement in three key subjects – Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information and Locating Information. Fairfield performed below the state average on each of the three subject areas:

  • Applied Mathematics—State average 241, Fairfield 235
  • Reading for Information—State average 247, Fairfield 242
  • Locating Information—State average 230, Fairfield 228

The R2W test awards certificates, which are associated with career professions, beginning with bronze and peaking with platinum.

Roughly one-fourth (24.6 percent) of the 179 students taking the test didn’t score well enough to earn a certificate.

About one-third (34.1 percent) earned a Bronze Level certificate, meaning they’re ready for 35 percent of jobs in the workforce. Bronze level sample professions include construction laborer, electrician assistant, cement mason and dental hygienist.

Another 38.5 percent earned Silver Level certificates, which means they’re ready for 65 percent of jobs, including insulation installer, roofer, chef, pipe layer, flight attendant or machinist.

Gold Level certificates were earned by 2.8 percent of students. This level includes credit analysts, aircraft mechanics, medical transcriptionists, acute care nurses and social workers.

No Fairfield students earned a Platinum Level certificate, which includes architects, chemists, geographers, anesthesiologists and agricultural engineers.

Barbara Ball contributed to this article.

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