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Georgia students come up short on End of Course Tests in math

July 21, 2014
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – End of Course Tests (EOCTs) for spring 2014 revealed more than 60 percent of Georgia high school freshmen and sophomores failed to meet the minimum standards for algebra and geometry.

On the EOCT for Coordinate Algebra taught in ninth grade, only 23 of 182 school systems had averages above 69 percent. On the test for Analytic Geometry in 10th grade, the numbers were even bleaker. Only 15 school systems posted averages above 69, with a number of systems reporting a near 100 percent fail rate.

In the Forsyth County School System, however, the news was a bit better. Local students scored an average 70 percent on the Analytic Geometry test, and 78 percent met benchmarks for Coordinate Algebra – the second highest average among the state's 182 school districts.

The "exceeds" category on the two tests also revealed mixed results for Forsyth. While 24 percent of students exceeded standards in Coordinate Algebra, less than 5 percent exceeded the mark on the Analytic Geometry test.

Individual school results have yet to be released by the Georgia Department of Education.

The two math tests are among eight subject tests given to high school students each year, and which count for 20 percent of the student's grade. In the other six tests, Georgia students performed above expectations.

State education officials are embroiled in a battle with a number of school systems across the state, including Fulton and Cobb, which are asking to return to a traditional math sequence and to be assessed in that manner.

Currently, the state promotes an integrated approach where strands of math, like algebra, geometry and trigonometry, are woven into each year, with advanced instruction each year. While traditional math can be taught, End of Course Tests have integrated concepts.

The 2013-14 school year was only the second year for the Coordinate Algebra EOCT, the first for Analytic Geometry and the last for both. Next year, Georgia is dropping all EOCTs, along with the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) in elementary and middle school, in favor of the new Georgia Milestones assessment in grades 3-12.

Georgia Milestones will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) in English/language arts and mathematics and Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) in science and social studies. The GPS was the state curriculum prior to the adoption of the Common Core.

State education officials warned the results from the first Milestones offering next year will likely be lower than this year until students become accustomed to the higher rigor.

"The Analytic Geometry and Coordinate Algebra results [this year] give us another look at the new level of increased expectation for student achievement that is coming with Georgia Milestones. The expectations to meet standards are significantly increasing," said State Schools Superintendent John Barge.

When asked how much lower math scores can go when a significant number of students are failing the current tests, Barge said students must rise to the expectations at the national level.

"While [this year's] results seem low and different from what we are used to seeing, they are in line with what many national assessments say Georgia's students [are at]. We must address this head-on so our students leave our schools with the best preparation possible to succeed in life after high school," said Barge.

Summary of 2014 EOCT results among Georgia students:

• 93 percent met or exceeded the standard for American Literature and Composition. (+2)

• 88 percent met or exceeded the standard for Ninth Grade Literature and Composition. (+2)

• 85 percent met or exceeded the standard for Physical Science. (+2)

• 81 percent met or exceeded the standard for Economics/Business/Free Enterprise. (+2)

• 75 percent met or exceeded the standard for Biology. (+1)

• 73 percent met or exceeded the standard for U.S. History. (n/c)

• 40 percent met or exceeded the standard for Coordinate Algebra. (+3)

• 35 percent met or exceeded the standard for Analytic Geometry. (n/a)

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