Beaufort County PASS scores improve

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Beaufort County School District students posted broad-based improvements on the 2011 administration of the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS), according to results released by the South Carolina Department of Education.
Beaufort’s percentages of students meeting the state standard – a score of Basic on the three PASS scoring levels – improved in 22 of 26 combinations of grade levels and subjects tested.
“These improved scores are definitely encouraging,” said Superintendent Valerie Truesdale.  “The increases are a tribute to the hard work of students and parents, to the teachers who stretch learners, and to the creative energy of school and district leaders who have worked hard to ease the impact of budget cuts on the classroom.”
Highlights in the 2011 PASS report include:
• Percentages of students scoring Exemplary – the highest of three scoring levels — increased at all grade levels in English language arts, mathematics and social studies.  Results at the Exemplary level were mixed in writing and science.
• Percentages of students scoring Not Met – the lowest of three scoring levels — decreased at all grade levels in English language arts, mathematics and social studies, and in all but one grade in science.  Writing test results at the Not Met level were split among the two grades tested.
• Performance of African-American and Hispanic students improved in a majority of categories, particularly in elementary grades.
• Performance of students from low-income families also improved in most categories, particularly in the elementary grades.
Truesdale said it was gratifying to see fewer students falling short of state standards this year while academically strong students’ scores in ELA, math and social studies were above state averages in all grades.
“We’re making a concerted effort to help struggling students catch up by requiring extended learning time,” Truesdale said.  All students who have not yet met state standards are invited to extended learning time on August 1.  At three schools, St. Helena Elementary, Whale Branch Elementary and Whale Branch Middle, the entire school begins extended learning time on August 1.
South Carolina and federal laws require end-of-year accountability tests based on state academic standards. PASS tests students in grades 3-8 in five subjects: English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.  Writing assessments were reduced in 2011 to only two grades (fifth and eighth) as a cost-saving measure by the state.
In 2009, Beaufort County Schools met or exceeded state average in 23% of grades and subjects. In 2010, the district was above state average in 37% of areas tested. In 2011, Beaufort students scored above state average in 42.3% of areas tested, reflecting steady positive progress.
The percentage of students meeting state standards improved in 22 of 26 possible areas from 2010 to 2011.
Comparing 2011 scores with the PASS administration in 2010, the percentage of students scoring “Met” or “Exemplary” equaled or exceeded the South Carolina state average in 11 of 26 possible areas in 2011.  It is noteworthy that six areas are within one point of exceeding state averages.
Students performed better in English language arts and math in all grades. They performed better in science in all grades except seventh, and in social studies in four grades.