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      SC PASS scores released

      The South Carolina Department of Education has posted the results for PASS (Palmetto Assessment of State Standards), the state's new standardized test.

      Public school students in grades 3-8 took the test last spring. PASS replaced the PACT (Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test), in an effort to help more schools to meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

      PASS results include scores in five subject areas: writing, English language arts (reading and research), mathematics, science and social studies.

      For PASS, the General Assembly established three scoring levels:

      • Exemplary - The student demonstrated exemplary performance in meeting the grade level standard.
      • Met - The student met the grade-level standard.
      • Not met - The student did not meet the grade-level standard.

      Click here to find out how your child's school fared. (http://ed.sc.gov/topics/assessment/scores/pass/2009)

      The SC Dept. of Education released the following information this morning about the PASS results:

      In 2009's baseline (first-year) PASS testing, students continued scoring trends exhibited in the final years of PACT testing - with the highest performance generally coming in English language arts and social studies and the lowest in science. Eighth-grade PASS results were generally lower than the other grades, which also was similar to PACT trends.

      State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said the 2009 PASS results create baseline reference points for future student performance. And unlike PACT, PASS results give local districts and schools student performance data for each academic standard tested, broken out into three categories:

      1. Student test performance shows weaknesses and a need for further instruction in the standard.

      2. Student may benefit from additional activities that focus on the standard.

      3. Student test performance shows strengths in the standard.

      "These scores do a better job of showing schools where to concentrate their efforts," Rex said. "Coupled with the formative assessments that districts are doing throughout the year, teachers now have more detailed information about student strengths and weaknesses than ever before."

      Districts receive state funding assistance to administer formative tests - MAPS is the most widely used in South Carolina - that measure student progress throughout the school year. PASS, by contrast, is an end-of-the-year test required for compliance with state and federal accountability laws.

      Rex said that baseline PASS results clearly show the need for improvement, particularly in science.

      "We've made a lot of progress in giving teachers extra resources, everything from model lesson plans to suggested teaching strategies and testing tips to see if students are learning effectively," Rex said. "The new Standards Support System we rolled out last year builds better links between our academic content standards, classroom teaching and testing.

      "These extreme budget cuts - $700 million to South Carolina's public schools in the last 18 months - have drained resources and sapped morale. More students are homeless this year, and many more students now have family incomes low enough to qualify them for free or reduced-price lunches. But I'm confident that our state's educators will step up to the plate on behalf of their students. We have to keep working hard, use the resources we have and do the best job we possibly can."

      PASS results by subject

      • Writing - The writing test for each grade level included multiple-choice questions and one extended-response (essay) item. Fifth-graders had the highest "passing" percentage of students meeting the standard or showing exemplary performance - 73.2 percent. The eighth-grade passing score was lowest at 68.2 percent.
      • English language arts (reading and research) - The ELA test includes multiple-choice questions based on reading passages. Fifth-graders again had the highest passing percentage at 80 percent. Grade 8 was lowest at 67.5 percent.
      • Mathematics - The math test contained only multiple-choice items. Grade 4 had the best passing rate at 76.8 percent. Grade 8 was lowest at 62.7 percent.
      • Science - The seventh-grade passing rate of 71.1 percent was best on this multiple-choice test. Grade 3 was lowest at 61.6 percent.
      • Social studies - This test also contained only multiple-choice questions. Grade 4 had the best passing rate at 79.8 percent, while Grade 7 was lowest at 60.2 percent.

      Exemplary performance

      Third grade had the highest percentage of students scoring at the exemplary level - 46.4 percent for English language arts. Students in two grade levels - 5 and 6 - recorded the smallest percentage of exemplary scores - 14.2 percent each in science testing.

      In addition to English language arts, Grade 3 had the highest percentage of exemplary level scorers in two other subjects - writing (39.5 percent) and social studies (31.2 percent). Fourth-graders had the highest percentage at the exemplary scoring level for mathematics (31.3 percent), edging third grade by one-tenth of a percentage point. Grades 7 and 8 tied for the best percentages of exemplary scores in science at 22.3 percent each.

      Demographic results

      PASS scores for African-American students, for students with limited English proficiency and for those enrolled in free or reduced price school food programs were lower than overall student scoring percentages.

      The highest passing rate for African-American students came in social studies at the fourth-grade and sixth-grade levels - 69.8 percent in each case. The lowest passing rate for African-American students was 43.4 percent in Grade 8 science. The highest percentage of African-American students with exemplary scores - 30 percent - occurred in third-grade ELA. The smallest percentage with exemplary scores was 3.9 percent in fifth-grade science.

      Students with limited English proficiency recorded their highest passing marks in social studies - 77.2 percent in Grade 4 and 75.7 percent in Grade 6. Their lowest passing marks came in science testing - 52.8 for Grade 3 and 52.9 in Grade 8. The highest percentage of limited English proficient students with exemplary scores - 32.4 percent - occurred in third-grade English language arts. The smallest percentage with exemplary scores was 7.8 percent in fifth-grade science.

      The highest passing rate for students enrolled in free or reduced-price school food programs was 71.8 percent - a mark reached in fourth-grade social studies and fifth-grade ELA. The lowest passing rate was 46.6 percent in Grade 7 social studies. The highest percentage of free/reduced-price students with exemplary scores was 32.6 percent in third-grade English language arts. The smallest percentage with exemplary scores was 6 percent in fifth-grade science.

      Summary of statewide 2009 results for all students

      Grade 3

      • Writing - 68.9 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • ELA (reading and research) - 78 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Mathematics - 67.1 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Science - 61.6 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Social Studies - 74.4 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.

      Grade 4

      • Writing - 70.1 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • ELA (reading and research) - 75.6 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Mathematics - 76.8 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Science - 68.7 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Social Studies - 79.8 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.

      Grade 5

      • Writing - 73.2 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • ELA (reading and research) - 80 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Mathematics - 73.5 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Science - 68.3 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Social Studies - 70 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.

      Grade 6

      • Writing - 70.3 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • ELA (reading and research) - 71.7 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Mathematics - 70.3 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Science - 64 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Social Studies - 79.6 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.

      Grade 7

      • Writing - 70.1 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • ELA (reading and research) - 68.7 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Mathematics - 69.4 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Science - 71.1 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Social Studies - 60.2 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.

      Grade 8

      • Writing - 68.2 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • ELA (reading and research) - 67.5 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Mathematics - 62.7 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Science - 62.3 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.
      • Social Studies - 69.6 percent Met or showed Exemplary performance in meeting the grade-level standard.

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