Charleston County schools performing above state PASS averages

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Students in Charleston County who took the 2010 Palmetto Assessment of State Standards tended to perform above the state averages in all grade levels, data released Friday showed.

Only in third grade science and seventh grade math tests did Charleston County students perform under the state average.

[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.

The district improved in most areas over last year's scores, but struggled in the area of social studies in grades 3, 4 and 5 as well as science in grades 3, 5 and 6. The largest drop, a 8.5 percentage point decrease, came in social studies at the third grade level. The district saw the biggest jump in average scores over 2009 in grade 8 social studies, a 5.1 percentage point increase.

Science also proved to be a difficult subject for the students in Charleston County. Fewer students met or exceeded that state's standard in that test in all grade levels than in almost any of the other tests. Only 16.8 percent of students in grade 6 met the exemplary level in science testing.

The data shows Charleston County students largely excelled in language arts, especially in the early grades. However, the percentage of students that passes the state standard fell off with students in grade 8. The district passed the  highest percentage of students in grade 4 social studies and grade 3 language arts, both at 81 percent. Fourth grade math students were a close second at 80.5 percent.

PASS scores for African-American students, students operating with a limited understanding of the English language 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.

African-American students tended to fall between 20 and 40 percentage points behind white students. Third grade African-American students fared best in language arts testing where 70.9 percent passed, compared to 87.9 percent of whites.

Students with limited English proficiency and those who receive free or reduced lunch saw similar success in the language arts. In fact, nearly 75 percent of grade 3 students with limited English proficiency passed the language arts test. In social studies, 74 percent of grade 4 students passed and 76.8 percent passed in grade 6.

Female students continued the state trend of performing better than their male counterparts in every test category except grade 5 science and social studies.

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