District-level scores were released by the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) for 2014 End-of-Course Tests (EOCT), showing Newton County School System (NCSS) students outpaced the state pass rate on six out of eight tests and improved pass rates on five of six tests from last year.
Although NCSS high school students participated in eight EOCTs this year, only results from six tests can be compared to tests from the 2012-2013 school year. Not enough students took the American literature test in spring 2013 to produce a pass rate calculation, and the analytic geometry test was not administered last year.
When looking at the six comparable tests, NCSS students showed an 83 percent rate of improvement on EOCTS for the 2013-2014 school year. Increased pass rates were posted for ninth-grade literature, coordinate algebra, biology, U.S. history and economics. Pass rates for physical science remained the same as last year, and NCSS data accounted that test into the 83 percent.
NCSS pass rates were higher than the state rates on all of the EOCT except coordinate algebra and analytic geometry. Twenty-nine percent of students met or exceeded standards for the coordinate algebra test, and 30 percent passed the analytic geometry test.
The highest pass rate came from the American literature test, where 94 percent of students met or exceeded standards, followed by ninth-grade literature and economics tests, which both had 90 percent pass rates.
“I am pleased with the growth our students have shown this year,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “Our high school teachers, leaders and staff have focused their work, and our students have responded by continuing to post improved scores.”
Any student enrolled in and/or receiving credit for an EOCT course, regardless of grade level, is required to take the EOCT upon completion of that course, according to the GADOE. EOCTs align with Georgia’s state-mandated content standards and include assessment of specific content knowledge and skills. They provide data to evaluate the effectiveness of classroom instruction at the school, system and state levels. In 2011-2012, the EOCT became Georgia’s high school accountability assessment as part of the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).
A student’s final grade in a course subject with a required EOCT is calculated using the EOCT as per the State Board Rule 160-4-2.13. For students enrolled in ninth grade for the first time before July 1, 2011, the EOCT counts as 15 percent of the final grade. For students enrolled in ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2011, the EOCT counts as 20 percent of the final grade.
“Our high school team and students are to be commended for their tenacity and concentrated efforts,” Fuhrey said. “Our families and community can be proud of our improvements as they demonstrate our continued commitment to our non-negotiable goals of ‘more effective teaching and increased student achievement.’
“It’s important to note that we are not satisfied with these results as it’s out mission to provide ‘educational excellence for all students.’ We’re not there yet, but we are on the way. We will continue to strategize, engage our parents and community and work diligently to improve our student outcomes. Finally, the ‘exceeds the standard’ category has increased as well. Not only are more students ‘meeting the standard’ in high school, but more are also ‘exceeding the standard.’ The exceeds data becomes important given the new (and more rigorous) Georgia Milestones assessments that will be administered in the spring of 2015.”
This is the last time students will be given EOCTs, as NCSS and the rest of the state transitions to Georgia Milestones, a new testing system that is will replace both EOCTs and CRCTs (Criterion Referenced Competency Tests) for grades three-eight. The new system is consistent across all grades instead of a series of individual tests and will be administered completely online by the fifth year, with some exceptions for certain students. Georgia Milestones is expected to be harder, which should produce lower scores initially.
According to GADOE, school-level EOCT data should be released later this month.