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High school math tests present challenge

State releases school-level End of Course Tests results

POSTED: July 30, 2014 8:58 p.m.

At all Hall County and Gainesville schools in which mathematics II End of Course Tests scores were reported this year, the percentage of students to exceed the standard is zero.

The picture is not much different statewide, where only 12 of the approximately 150 schools tested managed to break zero percent, and none reached 10 percent.

Only a small number of students, ranging from three to 35 per school, participated in the mathematics II test in Gainesville and Hall County. Scores were reported only for the four schools in which 10 or more students participated: Lanier Career Academy, East Hall High School, Wood’s Mill High School and Gainesville High School.

Of these, the highest Mathematics II scores were at Gainesville High, where 29.2 percent met the standard. The lowest were at East Hall, where only 5.6 percent met the standard.

Kevin Bales, director of middle and secondary education for Hall County Schools, said the mathematics II test is not only more difficult than other End of Course Tests subject areas, but requires students to answer a greater percentage of questions correctly in order to meet the standard.

“It’s not so much math scores are plummeting as we’re expecting more,” said Bales. “We continue to watch our math End of Course assessments closely because they’re much more rigorous.”

Results for the other subject areas tested show a strong contrast to scores in math. In physical science, economics, ninth-grade literature, U.S. history, American literature and biology, many schools had more students exceed the standard than fail to meet it.

In the other two mathematical subject areas, analytic geometry and coordinate algebra, only a few schools had zero percent of students exceeding standards. The highest percentage exceeding the standard for analytic geometry was 9.2 percent at Wood’s Mill High School.

For coordinate algebra, the highest percentage was 9.8 at North Hall High School. Mathematics II scores for North Hall were not reported.

“The district is pleased with results from both of our high schools,” said Sarah Bell, chief academic officer for Gainesville City Schools.

Bell said the district is particularly pleased with improved scores in literature at Wood’s Mill High School, where the district has been using a new program. Scores were especially improved in ninth-grade literature at Wood’s Mill, where 60 percent met or exceeded expectations in 2013, up to 91 percent in 2014.

“Woods Mill High School has put a strong blended learning program in place in the content area of English, and the results show us that this program is working,” Bell said.  

Bales said he is especially proud of the scores in biology at Chestatee High School and physical science at Johnson High School.

“There are several areas where we have schools that continue to do extremely well,” he said. “Now we will comb through the data sets to identify our strengths and identify our weaknesses.”

The highest scores for each subject area outside of mathematics in both districts were at C.W. Davis Middle School, where 98.6 percent exceeded the standard for physical science and 94 percent exceeded the standard for ninth-grade literature; Flowery Branch High School, where 79.4 percent exceeded the standard for economics and 48.9 percent exceeded the standard for American literature; Johnson High School, where 57.1 percent of students exceeded the standard in U.S. history; and Chestatee High School, where 44.9 percent of students exceeded the standard in biology.

The subjects in which standards were met or exceeded most often were physical science, where all standards were met or exceeded 100 percent of the time at five of the 14 schools for which scores were reported, and ninth-grade literature, in  which standards were met or exceeded 100 percent of the time at six of the 17 schools for which scores were reported.

The tests were administered at the end of the 2013-2014 school year and in some cases counted as part of students’ final grades. In the 2014-2015 school year, students will take the new Georgia Milestones test, which will include a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, and the End of Course Tests will no longer be used.


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