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End-of-course exams show mixed results in Bulloch County
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Ups and downs
    The following are 2012 pass rates, with a comparison to 2011, posted by Bulloch County high school students on Georgia’s End-of-Course Tests:
  Ninth-grade literature and composition — 83.5 percent (down 0.7 percentage point from 2011)
  American literature — 87 percent (down 1.1 points)
  Biology — 73.3 percent (down 4.6 points)
  Economics — 74.7 percent (up 3 points)
  Math I — 67.9 percent (up 12.4 points)
  Math II — 64.3 percent (up 9.1 points)
  Physical science — 76.1 percent (up 0.5 point)
  U.S. history — 58.2 percent (down 6.8 points)

     Bulloch County high school students posted mixed results on End-of-Course Tests, according to data released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education.
     In the eight End-of-Course Tests with measurable results, Bulloch County students posted higher scores in four and lower scores in the other four. By contrast, students across Georgia posted gains on every test except math II.
Despite that, Bulloch’s results generally were in line with the state. The county was significantly higher in math II, with 64.3 percent of students passing the test last spring compared to 53.9 percent statewide.
     “In the coming weeks, the school system will analyze the root causes to determine why some scores are low and how they can be improved,” Interim Superintendent Fran Stephens said.
      The district posted its largest gains in math I and II from 2011 to 2012, but those are still among Bulloch County’s weakest results. Stephens said the district still needs to improve. However, the county’s pass rates were still higher than the state’s on both math tests.
      “We are seeing a correlation between our concentration on yearlong math support classes and improvement in math skills,” said Brenda Kingery, the district’s program specialist for testing data analysis and research.
      After phasing in integrated math, with its math I-IV sequence, just a couple of years ago, Georgia is returning to discrete math, with the more familiar separation of algebra and geometry.
      In the 2011-12 school year, school districts had the choice to offer integrated or discrete math. Bulloch County stuck with integrated math.
      But starting with the 2012-13 school year, coordinate algebra will be Georgia’s ninth-grade math course instead of math I, and the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards will phase in discrete math – and phase out integrated math – during the next four years.
      Bulloch County’s strong points continued to be ninth-grade literature and composition (83.5 percent passing, down 0.7 percentage point from 2011) and American literature (87 percent, down 1.1 percentage points). Those were generally in line with state averages, though Georgia’s overall pass rate was higher on both tests (84.1 percent on ninth-grade literature, 89.2 percent on American literature).
      The district’s lowest End-of-Course Test pass rate was in U.S. history, which dropped by 6.8 percentage points to 58.2 percent passing. Stephens called that subject Bulloch County’s “area of greatest concern.”
      The End-of-Course Test accounts for 20 percent of the student’s final course grade. These tests are taking on a greater role in the state’s accountability system, as the state phases out the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Students who entered ninth grade starting in 2011-12 no longer take the test, which is given in 11th grade in English/language arts, math, science and social studies.

Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

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