Berkeley County schools outpacing state average in PASS testing

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Students in Berkeley 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 fifth grade social studies and sixth grade writing tests did Berkeley 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 4, 5 and 6. The largest drop, a 5.3 percentage point decrease, came in social studies at the fifth grade level. The district saw the biggest jump in average scores over 2009 in grade 8 writing, an 8.9 percentage point increase.

Science also proved to be a difficult subject for the students in Berkeley 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 11.9 percent of students in grade 4 met the exemplary level in science testing.

The data shows Berkeley County students excelled in language arts, especially in the early grades. A system high 53.9 percent of third graders were ranked as exemplary in language arts.

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 10 and 20 percentage points behind white students. Third grade African-American students fared best in language arts testing where 43 percent met the exemplary level and another 33.4 percent satisfied the requirements of the state. The exemplary-level scores mark a significant increase, 9.5 percentage points, over last year's scores.

Students with limited English proficiency and those who receive free or reduced lunch saw similar success in the language arts. In fact, nearly 90 percent of grade 3 students with limited English proficiency passed the language arts test.

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

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