Southeast Bulloch High School continues to lead the way on most End-of-Course Tests, but Portal Middle High is closing the gap, according to results released this week.
Southeast Bulloch High posted the highest pass rates on six of the eight state-mandated tests. Portal took top honors on math I, in which its pass rate leaped nearly 26 points from 2011 to 71.7 percent of students passing in 2012, and physical science, which saw a 7 point improvement to 80.1 percent passing last school year.
End-of-Course Tests account 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.
Portal generally saw its pass rates rise this year. The school also switched from a block schedule with four longer class periods per day to a seven-period day. Southeast Bulloch and Statesboro high schools are still on block schedules.
Portal Principal Shawn Haralson attributed his school’s improvement in part to the scheduling change.
The seven-period day, he said, “allows teachers to implement a pretest at the beginning of the year and benchmarks every nine weeks. The teachers then analyze their data from the pretest and provide support and remediation for students that are having difficulty.”
Portal did see its pass rates drop in ninth-grade literature and math II. In biology, only nine students took the End-of-Course Test; the state generally only reports results for groups of 10 students or more. Every other subject test saw improvement.
“We did not see gains in math II with white students and students with disabilities,” Haralson said. “The goal is to specifically target these students with remediation and support throughout the year and after school if possible.”
William James Middle School had 22 students take, and pass, math I last year in an accelerated class. That was the only 100 percent pass rate posted by any group in the school system.
Southeast Bulloch High, while maintaining the highest pass rates in most subjects, saw drops every subject except American literature. The school’s biggest decline came in math I, in which the pass rate fell 11.5 points to 65 percent.
“Although SEBHS students outperform the state average in seven of the eight End-of-Course Tests, we had a general lull in our EOCT scores last year,” Principal Trey Robertson said. “The staff is working hard to recognize problems and address any issues that are affecting student achievement.”
Statesboro High’s pass rates also were generally lower than last year. Bulloch County’s largest school saw drops on every subject test except economics and physical science.
“We constantly monitor student performance data and seek to develop academic profiles to help us place students in academic coursework,” Principal Marty Waters said.
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said one of his goals is to determine why some results are better and some are not.
“Because EOCT scores assess student achievement in relation to Georgia’s performance standards, these results are very important to us,” he said. “What is just as important for us to understand is why we are seeing the results that we are, to understand the patterns in our student performance results and to measure ourselves not only against the state averages, but against ourselves, so that we are continuing toward improvement.
“This will involve a lot of work but will be well worth it,” he continued, “and our students deserve nothing less.”
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.