Hall County and Gainesville City schools showed improvement from last year in most subjects when Spring 2012 End of Course Test results were released Wednesday.
Math still proves to be a struggle though, at both the local and state levels.
This was the first year that an EOCT for Coordinate Algebra was administered, with 24 percent of Hall students meeting or exceeding the standard. Gainesville students were at 33 percent.
Statewide, 37 percent of students met or exceeded the standard.
Both school systems saw a drop in Mathematics I (which includes algebra, statistics and geometry). Hall schools went from an average grade of 76 to 66, while Gainesville schools went from 72 to 66.
Math scores were low statewide, with just 29 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards for Math I. Hall schools had 24 percent meeting or exceeding standards, while Gainesville had 35 percent.
“So, we know we’re at least on par with what we’re seeing in the state,” said Jamey Moore, Gainesville director of curriculum and instruction. “It still is definitely a look at the future of the new expectations for the testing that will come in for 2014-15.”
“I can’t say we expected high scores or low scores, mostly because the (Coordinate Algebra) course provided a new set of standards that teachers had never taught before,” said Terry Sapp, Hall County high schools school improvement specialist. She said that the state had also “raised the bar” in what scores are considered passing or failing.
After the scores are calculated, the state decides where to draw the line for the standard rate based on the number of right and wrong answers, Sapp explained.
Hall schools saw the steepest improvement in economics, up to an 86 average grade, from a 78 in spring 2012. Also, they jumped 5 points in United States History, from 75 to 80.
Sapp also said Math II was an improvement for the schools.
“We spent a lot of time and resources for improvement in that area, and it paid off,” she said. Sixty-four percent of students met or exceeded Math II standards this year.
In Gainesville, the biggest grade average improvement was in U.S. History, from a 78 to an 81.
The EOCT accounts for 20 percent of a student’s final grade in the class. It’s also a factor in the College and Career Ready Performance Index for the schools.
Comparing EOCT scores to previous years isn’t an exact science, as different numbers of students take the tests every time, and the state uses different pass/fail rates from year to year.
“But, it does give us a reference point to do our strategic planning and letting us know,” Moore said. “For instance, last year we recognized that physical science was a weakness that we wanted to try to intervene with, and come up with actions and strategies to make a difference. We did see our biggest gains in physical science, even though that’s the one we’re the farthest (off) of the state numbers.”
Gainesville’s average physical science grade was 76, while the state’s is 87.
The scores used for CCRPI may be different than what’s been reported, as well. Moore explained that the rating index does not use the scores of students who were in class less than 65 percent of the time.
Both Moore and Sapp said that as statewide rigor and expectations increase, the local school systems will continue to adapt. For example, Sapp said that Hall teachers are increasing focus on reading complexity, which is of importance in multiple subjects.
“We’re facing the same challenge as the rest of the state in meeting the changing rigor in those tests,” Moore said. “I would say that students and teachers and parents are working very hard to meet the changing expectations.”