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Georgia students improve in EOCTs, continue struggles in math

Georgia students excelled in end-of-course tests across several subjects, from physical science to economics and ninth-grade literature and composition. But they struggled in four types of math where they failed to reach 70 percent for a mean score.

The Georgia Department of Education on Wednesday released eight end-of-course tests, commonly called EOCTs, and announced that students improved on six of the eight subjects from last year. They met or exceeded standards and displayed one-year increases in coordinate algebra, economics, biology, physical science, ninth-grade literature and composition, and American literature and composition.

One test, U.S. history, saw no change from last year, while analytic geometry was new this year.

District and school-level results are expected to be released later in July.

“Students and teachers are getting more and more comfortable with our standards and the results are showing it,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a press release. “The comparable end-of-course tests demonstrate a positive trend. When results on almost all comparable tests increase then we should be encouraged. However, we do know that the more demanding expectations on our new tests could bring similar results to what we’ve seen the last two years in math.”

For students who entered ninth grade for the first time in the 2011-12 school year, the EOCT counts as 20 percent of the student’s final grade, a five percent increase from the previous level.

Students took the EOCTs for the last time this year. Beginning next year, all students in third grade through high school will take the Georgia Milestones.

The new testing system is considered one consistent program, rather than a series of individual tests. It will include open-ended questions in English/language arts and math to better gauge students’ content mastery and, with some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation.

Georgia Milestones will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in English/language arts and math and Georgia Performance Standards in science and social studies.

In math II, which covers geometry, algebra II and statistics, only 0.3 percent of Georgia students exceeded expectations, while 77.4 percent did not meet expectations, and the mean score was 66 percent.

In coordinate algebra, 59.7 percent of students did not meet expectations, while 31.4 met them and 8.8 exceeded them. The mean score was 68 percent.

However, on the new analytic geometry EOCT, 35 percent of students met or exceeded the standard this year. That number is expected to increase next year in a similar fashion as the coordinate algebra EOCT increased from last year to this year by three percentage points, DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza said.

“The analytic geometry and coordinate algebra results give us another look at the new level of increased expectation for student achievement that is coming with Georgia Milestones. The expectations to meet standards are significantly increasing so we have a new and more realistic baseline of student performance,” Barge said. “While these results seem low and different from what we are used to seeing, they are in line with what many national assessments say Georgia’s students’ college and career readiness level is. We must address this head-on so our students leave our schools with the best preparation possible to succeed in life after high school.”

Summary of 2014 EOCT results:

• Eighty-eight percent of students met or exceeded the standard for ninth grade literature and composition. This is an increase of two percentage points from 2013.

• Ninety-three percent of students met or exceeded the standard for American literature and composition. This is an increase of two percentage points from 2013.

• Forty percent of students met or exceeded the standard for coordinate algebra. This is an increase of three percentage points from 2013.

• Thirty-five percent of students met or exceeded the standard for analytic geometry. The winter 2013 EOCT was the first administration for analytic geometry.

• Seventy-five percent of students met or exceeded the standard for biology. This is an increase of one percentage point from 2013.

• Eighty-five percent of students met or exceeded the standard for physical science. This is an increase of two percentage points from 2013.

• Seventy-three percent of students met or exceeded the standard for U.S. history, which was no change from 2013.

• Eighty-one percent of students met or exceeded the standard for economics/business/free enterprise. This is an increase of two percentage points from 2013.