Richmond, Columbia County schools show improvements, still struggle with math

 

Richmond County schools are making gains in literary- and economics-based subjects, but some high schools are still struggling with math scores according to school level End of Course Test results released by the Georgia Department of Education.

Roughly 93,000 students took the EOCT this year, a test counting for 15 to 20 percent of their final grades, depending on when the student enrolled in ninth grade. Middle-school students in Richmond and Columbia counties began taking the algebra portion of the exam last year, and Richmond County’s Pine Hills Middle School took the physical science portion of the test this year.

Schools in Richmond County made improvements in literature-based subjects. Cross Creek High School made small gains in American literature and ninth-grade literature, with 88 percent and 84 percent of students passing those sections, respectively. About 73 percent of T.W. Josey students passed ninth-grade literature, jumping 16 percentage points from last year.

Cross Creek Principal Jason Moore said working alongside teachers and data-mining contributed to his school’s improved scores.

“We have very skilled teachers and a phenomenal staff. They did a great job helping get our students ready in these categories,” Moore said. “Teachers also collaborated with me and really looked hard at our student data, and adjusted instruction based on that. If you don’t do anything with the data, you won’t get results.”

Several Richmond County schools also increased their scores in economics and physical science. About 83 percent of Cross Creek High School students passed the economics section of the test, a 9 percentage point increase from last year. All Pine Hills Middle School students passed the physical science portion of the EOCT.

In Columbia County, most literature scores remained high. About 99 percent of Greenbrier High School students passed the American literature test section, a roughly two percentage point increase from last year’s pass rates.

But many high schools still struggled with the math section of the exam. In Richmond County, only Johnson and Davidson magnet schools had pass rates of 50 percent or higher on the algebra section. Scores on the Math II section were also low, with Glenn Hills High School, T.W. Josey and Hephzibah High having pass rates in the single digits.

Columbia County high schools performed at a higher level on the algebra and Math II sections, but in some cases a substantial minority of students struggled to meet testing standards. Most high schools in the county had at least a 50 percent pass rate in both sections, but many schools showed small drops in scores from 2013 to 2014.

Middle schools in Richmond and Columbia counties had much higher pass rates in algebra than their older peers. Eighty-seven percent of students at Freedom Park and 81 percent of Morgan Road students passed the algebra section, representing double-digit jumps in percentage points from last year. In Columbia County, almost 99 percent of students at Stallings Island Middle School passed algebra this year.

Richmond County Superintendent Frank Roberson said constantly changing state mathematics standards, which left little time for teachers to adapt, contributed to the low pass rates in math-related EOCT sections.

“There are gaps between the content objectives, instructional approach and adequate time for teacher training in advance of testing,” Roberson said in a district release. “These gaps are being examined closely by this school system and the state to ensure that they are addressed.”

This will be the last year Georgia students will undergo EOCT testing. The exam is being replaced next year by the Georgia Milestones testing system, which grades 3-12 will take.

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