Georgia students improve in most End-of-Course Test areas

Georgia School Superintendent John Barge says the state will have to meet challenges with low math scores by Georgia students. (Special photo)

Georgia School Superintendent John Barge says the state will have to meet challenges with low math scores by Georgia students. (Special photo)

ATLANTA —While Georgia students improved their performance in six of the eight 2014 End-of-Course Tests compared to 2013 results, two out of five or fewer met standards for coordinate algebra and analytic geometry.

In a summary of the state results released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education, no category saw a decline in 2014. In addition to the six areas of improvement, students were flat with 2013 scores in U.S. history and this was the first time that geometry was tested.

The year-over-year improvements were seen in the areas of economics, biology, physical science, ninth-grade literature and composition, American literature and composition, and coordinate algebra.

“Students and teachers are getting more and more comfortable with our standards and the results are showing it,” Georgia School Superintendent John Barge said Wednesday. “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.”

The worst scores came in coordinate algebra, which saw a 3 point increase to 40 percent, and analytic geometry, where 35 percent of the students tested met or exceeded standards. Those are areas that will have to be focused upon, the state school chief 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.”

The students’ best performance came in American literature and composition, where more than nine out of 10 students — 93 percent — met or exceeded standards. That was 2 percentage points better than Georgia students scored last year.

Other End-of-Course Test results of meeting or exceeding standards were:

— Ninth-grade literature and composition, 88 percent, up 2 percent from 2013;

— Physical science, 85 percent, up 2 percent;

— Economics/business/free enterprise, 81 percent, up 2 percent;

— Biology, 75 percent, up 1 percent;

— U.S. history, 73 percent, no change.

For a student who entered ninth grade for the first time in the 2011-12 school year, the End-of-Course Test counts as 20 percent of that student’s final grade, an increase from the previous 15 percent level.

School district-level results are to be released by July 16, and scores from individual schools by July 30, department officials said.

This was the final year that the EOC Test will be used. Next year, all students in grades 3-12 will take the Georgia Milestones, which is designed to be a single consistent program across grades 3-12 instead of a series of individual tests. Milestones will include open-ended questions in English language arts and math and, with some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accommodations, is planned to 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 mathematics and Georgia Performance Standards in science and social studies.