Scores for the South Carolina Palmetto Assessment of State Standards are in and Dorchester Two is pleased with the overall results.
The SCPASS was first administered in the spring 2009 to public schools for third through eighth grades. Results are used for school, district and federal (No Child Left Behind) accountability purposes. The SCPASS includes tests in writing, English/language arts, math, science and social studies.
Debi Gilliam, director of assessment and accountability for the district, said that when scores come in, the first thing she does is compare DD2’s passing scores to South Carolina’s scores. Gilliam holds on to the scores from year to year.
DD2 beat South Carolina’s scores in every subject, in every grade.
“That is something that we’re proud of,” Gilliam.
Next, the district sees if scores went up or down from the 2012-2013 school year. Compared to last year, DD2 score percentages in “met and exemplary” went up in third-grade writing and social studies, fourth-grade social studies, fifth-grade writing, sixth-grade social studies, seventh-grade science and social studies, and eighth-grade English and math. With the exception of seventh-grade science and eighth-grade English, all the aforementioned scores are also the highest they have ever been.
Most grades levels improved in the social studies portion, with scores going up for third, fourth, sixth and seventh grades while fifth and eighth grades stayed about the same as last year.
For the scores that went down from last year, DD2 examines whether the scores for the same subjects and grades also went down. For example, seventh-grade writing scores went down 3.1 percent, but the state’s overall score for seventh-grade writing went down 2.8 percent as well.
“It’s not that we think, ‘Oh, that’s okay,’ but it kind of helps you put it into perspective that we did go down, but everybody across the state went down too, so maybe it’s something with the test,” Gilliam said. “When we mirror what happens across the state, we don’t panic.”
District scores that need to be closely examined are ones that went down significantly compared to the state scores. Third-grade math scores went down 4.7 percent, while the state score actually went up 1.8 percent.
“We try to look at it every way that we can,” Gilliam said. “We try to make sense out of them. We refer to them year-long. We pay particular attention in mid-June up until about this time so we can make adjustments in the curriculum. We may make changes in what the schools are doing – we don’t do major changes but we certainly tweak them.”
After looking at the state scores, the district compares its scores to local districts – Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester Four.
DD2 performed better than all the local school districts in all grades, all subjects – except in fourth-grade writing and science and fifth-grade science, in which DD4 scored higher. DD4’s score in fourth-grade writing was 0.4 percent higher than DD2’s and 0.1 percent higher in fifth-grade science – differences, Gilliam said, that are “minimal.”
However, DD4 scored 9.2 percent higher in fourth-grade science than DD2.
“That’s big, that’s a lot,” she said. “So I’m sure we’re going to be visiting DD4 to see what they’re doing in fourth-grade science.”
DD2 also compares scores to districts “like” itself: Districts that have a similar poverty index.
This year DD2 is compared to Anderson One, Charleston, Greenville and Richland Two districts. Anderson One historically outscores DD2 in multiple areas. DD2 scored higher in every test, every grade compared to Richland Two. Greenville outscored DD2 by 0.1 percent in fourth-grade writing, and slightly more in fourth- and fifth-grade science.
Superintendent Joe Pye was happy with the scores.
“Last year there were a lot of changes with state curriculum standards and state assessments,” he said. “But as we compare our test results with school districts across the state, it is apparent that our students and teachers rose to the occasion.”
Going by the “met/exemplary” percentage scores, The Summerville Journal Scene analyzed the scores among different subgroups. It appears about as many females as males – if not more – either met passing scores or received exemplary scores.
Black or African American students scored lowest in “met/exemplary” in all subjects, in all grades, except eighth-grade social students where that subgroup had a passing percentage of 66.3 while the Hispanic or Latino subgroup had a passing percentage of 63.3. Black or African American students’ lowest percentage was 52.7 percent in sixth-grade science, compared to the 72.7 percent of all sixth-graders who passed the science portion. Black or African American students’ best performance was in fourth-grade social studies, 83.1 percent scored in the “met” or “exemplary” categories.
Assistant Superintendent Sean Alford said DD2 has a pronounced achievement gap, as does the state.
“We know it, it’s there, we try to address it, but it’s not something we’re surprised by,” he said.
DD2 board members reviewed the SCPASS scores during their board meeting Aug. 11. Board member Barbara Crosby expressed concern when she pointed out that all grades seemed to have lower scores in science.
“It just really bothers me when we’ve gone through so much,” she said.
This is the last year the South Carolina High School Assessment Program was implemented in South Carolina but DD2 still plans to use this year’s results to examine its curriculum.
The test covers English/Language arts and math, and students score on one of four levels, with level one being a “not passing” score. The test is issued to students who are in their second year after initial enrollment – typically 10th-graders.
DD2 scored higher in both English and math compared to the state percentage; 92.9 percent met the standard in DD2 while the state average was 89.8 percent. In DD2 at least 70.6 percent scored a level three or higher while the state average was 56.8 percent.
“We get all these different pieces of data, all the different subgroups…so they know where we need work,” Gilliam said. “It still provides a lot of good information.”
Compared to the Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and DD4 schools, DD2 performed better or the same.
Compared to similar districts, DD2 had scores that met standards that were higher or the same as Charleston, Greenville and Richland 2. However DD2’s scores fell behind Anderson 1, which had 96.4 percent of its students meeting standards.