DD4 schools below state average, PASS test results show

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Students in Dorchester County District 4 who took the 2010 Palmetto Assessment of State Standards tended to perform below the state averages in all grade levels and in almost every test, data released Friday showed.

Third graders fared best in DD4, only falling behind the state average in science testing. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades performed below the state average on every test.

[See complete data from the Department of Education.]

The state test has three scoring levels -- exemplary, meaning the student demonstrated exemplary performance in their grade level; met, meaning the student achieved the grade-level standard; and not met, meaning the student did not satisfy the standards of the grade-level.

The test is given to students in grades 3 through 8 and focuses on writing, reading and research, math, science and social studies.

However, the district improved in most areas over last year's scores, but struggled in the area of social studies in grades 3, 5 and 6 as well as math and language arts in grades 5 through 8. The largest drop, a 13.8 percentage point decrease, came in social studies at the fifth grade level.

The district only posted single-digit percentages for students that met the exemplary level in grade 8 math and grade 6 science.

The data shows DD4 students performed best in language arts, especially in the early grades. However, the percentage of students that passes the state standard fell off at each grade level. The district passed the highest percentage of students in grades 3 and 4 social studies. Third grade writing students also performed well, passing 78.4 percent of students.

PASS scores for African-American students and those enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs remained lower that overall student scoring percentages in the district, similar to the state-wide percentages with one exception.

In grade 5 writing, African-American students outpaced white students by 3.5 percentage points.

African-American students tended to fall about 15 percentage points behind white students on most tests. African-American students performed best in social studies at most grade levels, often cutting the academic gap to only a few percentage points. African-American students struggled most with the science test and often slipped to nearly 30 points behind their white counterparts.

Students who receive free or reduced lunch saw similar success in social studies and the language arts. In fact, over 80 percent of grade 3 students who receive free or reduced-fare lunch passed the language arts test. In social studies, 79.4 percent of grade 3 students passed and 79.9 percent passed in grade 4.

Female students continued the state trend of performing better than their male counterparts in many test categories, but the margin was notably narrower. Female students had trouble in the sciences and social studies, falling behind male students in social studies in grade 3, 5, 6 and 8, and faltering in the science testing in grades 4, 5 and 6.

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