The Georgia Department of Education released the school-level End of Course Test scores Tuesday, and local students showed struggles in history and math, while remaining strong in English and science.
As a whole, the Hall County school system was about 8 percent below the state average in history and 6 percent below in economics. It topped the state average by nearly 6 percent in biology and mirrored the state average in American literature with 88.2 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standards.
Only North Hall High School topped the state average in U.S. history (68 percent) with 76 percent of those students meeting or exceeding the standards.
The county high schools all were right at the state average of 89 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards in American literature, including 97.5 percent at North Hall.
Half of the traditional high schools in the county were also below the state average in math II scores.
Eloise Barron, Hall County Schools’ assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said math II hinges on math I and some students may have some knowledge gaps coming out of the first course.
“In talking with teachers across the system, when we first started teaching math I, there was a question of do we teach kids or do we teach content,” Barron said.
“My theory is, not just for Hall County, but statewide, is we had that dilemma.”
Gainesville High School exceeded the state average in three subjects and matched it in one. The school, however, still struggled in history and math.
At Gainesville High, 62.6 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in U.S. history compared to 68 percent statewide.
Math I scores were 7 percent below the state average.
Gainesville school officials said many of the “transition students,” including those who come from outside the state, are having a hard time adjusting because of the different standards.
“Transition students are having the greatest difficulty,” said Jamey Moore, director of curriculum.
Moore said the move to Common Core standards should help those students adjust.
“We see Common Core as a way to level that playing field,” said Moore, adding that by 2015 standardized tests, like the EOCT, will be replaced by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
“The big thing that we’ve been thinking a lot about is how all of this is going to transition into the new assessments by 2015,” he said. “It will align more with the philosophy that we teach by. We’re trying to create thinkers that can solve problems, not just relay information that they’ve memorized.”
The EOCT is given to all high school students, and for those who entered ninth grade for the first time in the 2011-12 school year, the test counts 20 percent of their final grade.
The new grading system makes the test that much more essential for students.
“You have to get that alignment between what you teach and what you know is going to be tested,” Barron said. “Not that you teach to the test or what’s going to be on the test — we hope you go much beyond that — but you do want to make sure you haven’t left out content they are going to be tested on.”
This school year, the EOCT will be used to determine school success under the new accountability system: The College and Career Ready Performance Index.