Richmond County high school students made gains from last year on the 2012 End of Course Tests but still trail the state average in achievement, according to districtwide results released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education.
Local scores increased in five of the eight tested subjects, dropped in one and remained relatively unchanged in two. The largest struggle came in Math II, where just 23.6 percent of students met or exceeded standards compared to 54 percent statewide.
The value of the EOCT increased this year as the state moved to phase out the Georgia High School Graduation Tests. Now EOCT counts for 20 percent of a student’s final course grade, compared to 15 percent previously, and acts as a final exam.
It will be the tool to measure a school’s progress under the new College and Career Readiness Performance Index being implemented this coming school year.
Richmond County also made gains but still struggled in Math I, where 45.6 percent of students locally and 65 percent statewide met or exceeded standards. The highest achievement came in American Literature, with 83 percent of Richmond County students meeting or exceeding standards.
To work towards improving those math scores, the Board approved investing just over $1 million into Carnegie Learning materials, which through a combination of printed products and interactive software will track the progress and weaknesses of individual students and allow teachers to focus on the areas in which specific children need help most. The money to fund that investment will come, in part, from Race to the Top awards and SPLOST funds.
Virginia Bradshaw, executive director for the county’s middle schools, said the Carnegie material and software would work like visiting a doctor’s office to get an exact diagnosis of an ailment, something she said would be impossible without the materials because of the number of students in each classroom and the variations in their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Carol Rountree, the executive director of student services, said she wished the gap between local and statewide achievement had been closed, but was proud of the progress made and confident that Richmond County’s scores would rise and meet statewide averages as long as the system helped schools as much possible.
“I am positive,” Rountree said. “I believe the evidence is there that shows it is working,
“We would love for the progress to have closed the gap, but our progress towards that goal is commendable. It’s evidence that programs like Carnegie are working, that the interventions of teachers and principals are making a difference, and one thing we understand is that in order to close that gap, it’s going to take time. The improvement has to begin at the lowest level and work its way up.”
The results for individual schools are expected to be released at the end of July.
Staff writer Stephen Detrage contributed to this story.