County students’ testing scores improve again

By Nicole Daughhetee
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — High achievement and improvements, as documented in recent PASS testing and Exit Exam scores, indicate that Pickens County students are well on their way to meeting the district’s 80 percent graduation rate in the next five years.

According to data released by the South Carolina Department of Education, students in Pickens County outperformed state averages in Palmetto Assessment of State Standards testing in the 2011-2012 school year.

Pickens County students met proficiency at an above state average rate in every grade level and subject area with the exception of 7th grade math and social studies. Mean scale scores increased in all grades and subjects except for 5th grade writing and 8th grade English language arts and science.

The number of students who scored “Exemplary” increased in 14 of 26 tested areas.

By subject, more students met proficiency compared to the previous school year at the following rates: In the area of Science, students showed a 3.5 percent improvement, followed by a 2.8 percent improvement in Social Studies. English Language Arts had a 1.2 percent improvement, and Math scores improved 1.1 percent. Finally, SDPC students improved 0.7 percent in the subject area of writing.

“While we strive to exceed the state average, we also measure our achievement against the previous year’s success to ensure that we continue to improve,” said Sharon Huff, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services. “We’re pleased that SDPC students continue to exceed the performance of their peers across the state.”

Key areas of PASS Score improvement across the board in Pickens County includes an 11.6 percent improvement in 5th grade science proficiency; a 4 percent improvement in 6th grade math proficiency; a 4.4 percent improvement in 6th grade science proficiency; a 6.5 percent improvement in 7th grade science proficiency; and a 4 percent improvement in 8th grade writing proficiency.

“SDPC teachers and principals should be commended for the overall growth our students displayed during the 2011-12 school year,” said Huff. “It’s obvious that their hard work and preparation throughout the year benefited their students.”

Proficiency improvements among PASS Scores are not the only achievement the SDPC has to boast. For the third consecutive year in Pickens County, more students are passing the high school exit exam.
Recent results released by the South Carolina Department of Education, show a 0.7 percent increase for students in the Pickens County School District who passed the high school exit exam on their first attempt. The numbers for 2012 follow a 0.9 percent percent increase in scores during the 2011 school year.

With 84.2 percent of students passing both sections on the first attempt, district scores exceeded the average state score by 4.1 percent.

Scores from Daniel High and Easley High schools were above South Carolina’s state score. Both of these schools also improved their percentage of students passing both tests on the first attempt. While Liberty High School weighed in at 0.8 percent above the state average, their results are slightly below last year’s score by 0.3 percent.
Pickens High School is 1.4 percent below the state average and 2 percent percent below last year’s average.

“Although two high schools made gains and two schools showed slight decreases, we are proud that our district continues to show overall growth in the number of students passing HSAP on the first attempt,” said Huff. “All of our teachers work hard in the classroom. I credit them, as well as the principals who provide strong instructional leadership. We know that sustained improvement will require continuous effort at the school and district levels.

“Our high schools focus on preparing students for HSAP,” said Huff. “Teachers begin working with ninth graders so they will be prepared for the tenth-grade assessment. All four high schools work with students who need intervention and provide additional assistance as needed.”