Oct. 9, 2013. The statewide results of End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests for the 2012-13 school year show dramatic declines relative to prior years based on data recently released by the State Board of Education.
The results for individual schools and school districts will not be available from the State Board until next month, but large declines in the percentage of students achieving proficient scores are expected across all parts of the state, all grade levels, and all tested subjects. Because the state revised both the curriculum and test content for NC public schools last year, the test results are not comparable to those of prior years and educators recommend caution in interpreting the new figures.
“We cannot sugarcoat the results and say the lower scores are good news,” said Superintendent Dr. David Fonseca. “They clearly show that we have a lot of work to do. However, it’s important to recognize that they are based on a new and more rigorous curriculum and on more demanding tests. The lower results reflect these substantially higher standards and not actual declines in student achievement.”
Fonseca also noted that lower results were to be expected based on past experience. “We’ve seen declines in test scores after previous revisions to the curriculum and test content and we have known this would happen again for 2012-13. While we can never afford to be complacent, we can be reassured by the knowledge that we have recovered from similar declines in the past.”
Accountability and Federal Programs Director Dr. Wayne Eberle emphasized the degree to which the state raised the bar for student achievement with the changes that took effect in 2012-13. “It’s not just a matter of students needing to answer more questions correctly on the tests,” noted Eberle. “The whole standard of measurement has changed. The focus used to be on getting students to grade level proficiency. Now the goal is for students to graduate from high school ready to begin a career or go to college. That is a more demanding requirement and it requires continued adjustments in how and what we teach throughout our schools.”
Statewide, the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency declined by as much as 40 percent for 2012-13 on some measures. The proportion of students scoring at or above proficiency in grades 3-8 is in the range of 41-50 percent for reading and 35-50 percent for mathematics, with the exact figure varying by grade.
Science results are somewhat better but still lower than in the past. Approximately 47 percent of fifth graders and 61 percent of eight graders statewide demonstrated proficiency on the EOG science tests for 2012-13.
The results of EOC tests administered in English II, Algebra I/Integrated Math I, and Biology are much lower under the new standards. The percentage of students scoring at or above proficiency on EOC tests is approximately 52 percent for English II, 36 percent for Algebra I/Integrated Math I, and 45 percent for Biology.
While a more rigorous curriculum and more demanding test content led to lower results on the state’s standardized tests, previously released data on other key measures show that North Carolina’s public schools continued to make progress last year. The state’s graduation rate rose to a record high of 82.5 percent and average SAT scores increased by 10 points in 2013. Students in the Watauga County Schools exceeded statewide performance on both measures, achieving a graduation rate of 87.6 percent and an average total SAT score of 1605 versus the state average of 1479.
If the State Board of Education releases the complete results of last year’s EOG and EOC tests next month as expected, local schools will send home individual student results in December. Students and parents do not need to be concerned that the results will adversely affect a student’s current standing. The scores from last year’s tests will have no effect on students’ grades or their current placement in school.
A link to the state test results is available on the news and data page of the Watauga County Schools website. Results for the Watauga County Schools will be posted on the website after they are released by the State Board of Education next month.