End of course exams

The following are the average scores on the 2013 end-of-course exams. To see individual schools’ results, go to: http://ed.sc.gov/data/eocep.

Algebra 1/Math for the technologies 2 Biology 1/Applied biology 2 English 1 U.S. History and the Constitution

Berkeley 80.2 81.6 77.9 74.4

Charleston 83.2 83.8 80.1 74.9

Dorchester 2 84.2 85.4 80.4 76.4

Dorchester 4 74.7 76.8 74.5 69.1

State 80.6 81.3 77.9 72.7

S.C. Department of Education

More South Carolina students passed their end-of-course exams during the 2012-13 school year, and Lowcountry students generally saw better scores on those tests.

Students statewide and locally saw the biggest gains on the U.S. history and Constitution test, but the overall pass rate on that exam still was lower than the three other subjects tested, according to results released today by the South Carolina Department of Education.

The U.S. history and Constitution test consistently has been one of the most difficult end-of-course tests in terms of student success rates, and the average student had been scoring close to the minimum passing score of 70, said Scott English, the department’s chief operating officer.

For that reason, a small change in the average score could lead to a fairly big change in the passing rate, he said. The average score on the test increased 1.5 percentage points to 72.7 percent, and the pass rate jumped 7.8 percentage points to 60.6 percent.

“The information drawn from examination of test statistics basically indicates a gain that is significant and to be applauded, but is not out of line for an examination of this type,” English said. “Our conclusion is that it probably reflects increased knowledge of the curriculum standards and improvement in classroom instruction.”

The pass rates for the three other end-of-course exams – algebra 1, biology 1 and English 1 – also were higher than the previous year.

End-of-course exam results count for 20 percent of each student’s final grade in that course. They also contribute to schools’ overall ratings on state report cards and to the letter they earn under the federal grading system.

The state releases a multitude of test scores every fall that, taken together, can give valuable insight to how students across the state or in particular schools or districts are faring.

For high schools, the news has been mostly positive this year. The state has released exit-exam scores, which improved to the state’s best pass rate ever, as well as ACT and SAT college entrance exam results, which also were better than the previous year.

State report cards and scores on Advanced Placement exams will be provided later this fall.

In the Lowcountry, Dorchester 2 posted the best average score on each end-of-course test, and those were improved from the previous year in every subject except English 1, which was flat.

English 1 seemed to be a trouble spot across local districts, with Charleston’s 80.1 average score staying the same as the previous year. Those results fell in Berkeley County schools by .1 percentage points to 77.9 percent, and it also dropped in rural Dorchester 4 to 74.5 percent.

Sean Alford, assistant superintendent for instruction in Dorchester 2, said he was proud of the district’s systemic approach to instruction, and credit should be given to elementary and middle schools as well as high schools for their results.

“We believe we’re sending students to high school with a stronger background,” he said. “That helps them take the baton and push them to higher expectations.”

The district’s high schools are collaborative and share best practices, so teams of teachers are working together for students’ benefit, he said. That collaboration hasn’t been quite as strong between high schools and middle schools teaching the same end-of-course subjects tested, so that’s an area that will be a focus this year.

“If we can establish a target, we’re going to meet or exceed it,” he said.

Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or (843) 937-5546.