Drop in test scores reflect new academic standard

Amanda Moss Richmond County Daily Journal

November 8, 2013

At first glance, parents might panic at the drop in the Richmond County school district’s test scores, but take a deep breath — the test has changed and academic standards for North Carolina public schools are not the same compared to last year.

Test scores were released for North Carolina schools on Thursday. The results for Richmond County schools plummeted for the 2012-2013 school year to the last year’s numbers, but that’s because what’s being tested has changed.

According to a news release received Friday from Superintendent George Norris, past proficiency standards in Richmond County Schools only addressed what students needed for success at the next grade level. The new standards address how ready students are for college and careers and whether students are on track to be ready by high school graduation.

On the End of Grade (EOG) tests for grades three through eight, 20.9 percent of Richmond County’s students scored at a Level 3 or 4 in both reading and math. A Level 3 or higher represents proficiency in the subject area. The reading proficiency level was at 30.4 percent, and the math level was at 32.8 percent. This is down from 56.4 percent in the 2011-2012 school year for both subjects.

Statewide EOG scores for reading were at 43.9 percent proficiency level with math at a 42.28 percent level.

On the End of Course test for high school students, 25.6 percent of students received a passing score in English II, Math I and Biology. This is down from 78.6 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.

It should be noted that the decline in test scores this year does not necessarily mean a decline in overall student performance.

“North Carolina students didn’t lose ground in their learning last year, but they are being measured against a higher standard with more rigorous expectations for applying knowledge and skills to real-world problems,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson in a news release.

Along with scores, the state released accountability reports that measure the growth of students on a statewide level by looking at common assessments. Eight out of 14 public schools in Richmond County met or exceeded the expected growth.

Leak Street High School, Richmond Transitional School and Cordova School are classified as alternative schools. Each alternative school submitted three local option goals, as required, to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The three local option goals for each of these schools were met.

Ellerbe Middle, Hamlet Middle, Richmond Ninth Grade Academy, Richmond Senior High, Rockingham Middle and Rohanen Middle failed to meet the expected levels of growth.

“We fully expect proficiency levels to steadily increase as teachers and students acclimate to the new content standards and expectations,” said Atkinson.

Norris agreed.

“We are confident that our teachers and students can master these new rigorous standards given the time and opportunity to adequately prepare,” Norris said.

Individual students’ test scores are not yet available because local districts have yet to receive the software required to print the scores.