° empty

Parish student test scores improve in all subjects

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Vidalia English teacher Ollie King helps Nikki Davis with her homework Thursday afternoon at Vidalia High School.

VIDALIA — Louisiana end-of-course assessment results were released Tuesday, and Concordia Parish saw students improve in each of the three categories.

EOC tests are designated to measure whether students have mastered the knowledge and skills at the end of their courses.

For the 2010-2011 school year, students taking geometry, algebra I and English II were given an EOC test to measure their knowledge.

Students are scored on four achievement levels, excellent, good, fair and needs improvement. Students must score fair or higher to be eligible to receive their diplomas.

The tests will eventually replace the Graduation Exit Exam as the test required to graduate.

Students can take the test in any year in high school.

Concordia saw the biggest improvement in English II — 95 percent of the 217 students taking the exam met promotional standards compared to 81 percent of 199 students in 2010.

In Algebra I, 85 percent of the 229 students met promotional standards compared to 79 percent of 193 students the previous year.

Out of the 207 students who took the Geometry test, 75 percent passed, compared to 68 percent of 204 students in 2010.

Concordia Parish School Board Academic Director Paul Nelson said the increase in scores across the board was all due to teacher preparation.

“We have been stressing the teachers of the EOC courses to be more familiar with the assessment guides that come from the state,” he said. “The guide tells the layout of the test, and it can really help teachers tailor their instructions to meet with the test.”

Nelson also said since the tests are required for graduation students take them seriously.

“The students themselves now have more investment in it,” he said.

Nelson said the tests also account for 20 percent of the students’ final grades in the class.

“Let’s say you made the lowest possible score you can get to still score excellent on the test,” he said. “That would be equivalent to the lowest A you can get — a 93.”

Nelson said the scores are entered into the students’ grade, and then averaged out to come up with a final grade for the class.

“It is all done electronically,” he said. “That way it makes it easier for us to handle.”

Nelson said another factor that contributed to the students’ higher scores was the actual test taking process.

“The kids take the tests on computers,” he said. “A lot of kids dislike writing, and they are a lot less negative about having to do something on the computer.”

Nelson said the geometry scores were the ones he thought needed the most improvement, and the school board already has plans in place to foster that improvement.

“We have purchased an online educational tool for both algebra and geometry,” he said. “It’s a remediation tool for the EOC tests, and it really helps students prepare.”

While the board works to improve scores in the current categories, Nelson said students taking Biology I this year will also have to take an EOC test for it.

Nelson said for the 2012-2013 school year, tests for American History and English III will also be added.

Students will then be responsible for passing English II or English III, Algebra I or geometry and American History or Biology I, Nelson said.

“They are going to have to take all six,” he said. “But they don’t have to pass every one.”