School board chair wants improved test scores
During a work session last week, the Jasper County School District’s school board was presented with the latest state test scores.
Some of the results saw some major need for improvements, other areas saw growth.
“Overall, we have to accept where the scores are,” newly elected board chairwoman Priscilla Green said. “We are not where we want to be in some areas, but we see that the students are working hard to improve.”
Test scores presented include results from SC Ready, SC PASS, SAT and End-of-Course Exam Program scores.
The South Carolina READY test is a statewide assessment in English/Language Arts and mathematics. All students in third through eighth grades take the test.
At Ridgeland Elementary School, all grades taking the tests saw improvements ranging from 0.7 percent to 8.6 percent gains in both subject areas.
At Hardeeville Elementary School, there was a loss of 2.4 percent in third grade in English/Language Arts as well as a loss of 0.8 percent in third grade math, a 7.4 percent loss in fourth grade math and a 2.3 percent loss in fifth grade math. Gains were seen in the fourth- and fifth-grade Language Arts scores.
“When you look at the scores, you see that Hardeeville Elementary showed a loss and there has been a lot of teacher turnover on the Hardeeville campus,” Green said. “It is important to retain teachers and allow the students to learn without the teachers only staying for a brief time.”
Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School has some gains in sixth grade ELA with a 6.9 percent gain as well as eighth grade ELA that saw a 3.6 percent gain. In math, there was a 3 percent gain in sixth grade scores and a 0.4 percent gain in seventh grade scores. Scores showing a loss included seventh grade ELA with 0.2 percent and eighth grade math with a 2.6 percent loss.
The SC Palmetto Assessment of State Standards is a statewide assessment administered to students in grades four, six and eighth grades for science and grades five and seven for social studies.
Ridgeland Elementary scores saw a 4.5 percent gain in fourth grade science and a 3.2 percent gain in fifth grade social studies. The loss came in fifth grade science scores with a 15.1 percent loss.
Hardeeville Elementary School saw similar numbers with fourth grade science and social studies scores increasing by 6.9 percent and fifth grade social studies improving by 6.3 percent.
“At every grade level, we have a team looking at both the areas of gain and the areas of concern to see what can be done towards improvement,” Green said. “We are working on teacher retention.”
Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School saw a decrease in several areas, including sixth grade science with a 4 percent loss, seventh grade science with a 15.4 percent loss, and eighth grade science with a 17.8 percent loss. There was also a 4 percent loss in sixth grade social studies. There were some gains, including scores in seventh grade social studies of 1.5 percent.
The End-of-Course scores count for 20 percent in the calculation of the student’s final grade. This year, a 10-point grading scale changed the percentages.
In biology in 2016, 48.5 percent scored in the 70 and above percentile to pass in comparison to 37.2 percent in 2017 with the 60 and above percentage as a factor. The English I score for Ridgeland Hardeeville High School was 47.4 percent in 2016 and 41.0 percent in 2017; the English I classes for the entire district had 52 percent in 2016 and 50.3 percent in 2017; U.S. History in 2016 was 53 percent and 53.8 percent in 2017; the Algebra I score in 2016 was 43 percent and dropped to 26.8 percent in 2017, and the English I percentage of 70 and above in 2016 at HRMS was 48.5 percent and rose to 96.6 percent in 2017.
“There are a lot of areas that need improvement, including Algebra, and we are currently looking at more teacher training and one on one support to help improve these scores,” Green said. “We are glad to see the English scores at HRMS and this is due in part to the same English teacher remaining in the classroom for a few years.”
In 2016, the percentage of students taking the SAT was 23.5 compared to 10 percent in 2017.
The average composite score in 2016 was 802; in 2017 it was 945. The state said the 2017 data isn’t comparable to prior years because the redesigned SAT is a different assessment using a different scale.
“Everyone’s goal is to improve education,” Green said. “There are areas in need of improvement, but we also made some great strides. We have to support the staff to help them get the students to where they need to be.”
The graduation rate saw a decrease from 2016 to 2017, according to the district’s numbers. There was an 80.4 percent graduation rate in 2016 compared to the 2017 rate of 73.6 percent.