Leader Blues

Monday, July 20, 2009

TOP STORY >> Most juniors fail literacy test in PCSSD, Lonoke

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Less than half of the Lonoke and Pulaski County Special School Districts’ high school juniors have the necessary skills to pass the grade 11 literacy exam.

The numbers are even worse for Sherwood and Jacksonville students.

This is not good news for interim Superintendent Rob McGill, whose contract was just extended.

Based on recently released scores, only 37 percent of Jacksonville High School juniors are proficient or better in literacy. Only one other high school in PCSSD scored worse and that was Mills University Studies High School at 36 percent.

The state average is 57 percent, which Beebe, Cabot and Searcy school districts beat.

The literacy exam tests students’ writing, reading and grammar skills and is a collection of what a student should know by their junior year of high school.

The test is not tied directly to specific frameworks or curriculum like the benchmark exams and that makes it more challenging for the students.

Challenging or not, all juniors are expected to score proficient or advanced by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

All 44 students at Ahlf Junior High School in Searcy who took the Algebra I scored advanced.All 30 students at Lonoke Middle School taking the test were proficient or better.

All 206 junior high students in Cabot taking the geometry exam scored proficient or better.

The literacy results, along with Algebra I and geometry end-of-course exams and the benchmark scores for grades third through eighth are used to determine school-improvement status for schools under the federal No Child Left Behind laws.

Most students across the state take the Algebra I and geometry end-of-course exams in April. Some take the exams in January, depending on when they are finishing the respective course.

At the state level, more than 60 percent scoring at or above proficient on the mathematics tests and 57 percent at or above proficient on the literacy exam.

Beginning next school year, the Algebra I exam will be used as the state’s first “high stakes exam” as students will have to obtain a passing score on it before they are allowed to pass the course.

The passing grade is set lower than the bar for scoring “proficient.” If a student does not pass the Algebra I exam the first time, the student undergoes remediation and has two subsequent attempts to pass the exam. If a student still has not passed, an alternative method of instruction and an alternative form of assessment are administered, providing four opportunities to pass the exam.

Thompson said the literacy exam will become a “high stakes exam” around 2014, and possibly moved down to the end of the sophomore year to give students who fail the test sufficient time for remedial instruction.

This April, the biology end-of-course exam was given for the second time and 41 percent of biology students statewide scored proficient or advanced on the spring test, which the majority of students take. Some take the test in January.

Biology scores are not used to determine school-improvement status.

LITERACY EXAM


Statewide, 57 percent of juniors scored proficient or advanced on the end-of-grade level literacy exam.

At Beebe High School, 192 students took the test and 64 percent scored proficient or better.

At Cabot High School, 561 students took the exam and 69 scored proficient or better, but at Cabot’s Academic Center for Excellence it was a different story. Only 49 students took the test and 33 percent passed it.

At Carlisle High School, 42 juniors took the test and only 38 percent scored proficient. None scored advanced.

At England High School, 39 students took the test and just 38 percent scored proficient; none were advanced.

At Lonoke High School, 126 juniors took the literacy exam and 49 percent scored proficient or advanced.

In PCSSD, 187 Jacksonville High School juniors took the exam and just 37 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced. At Sylvan Hills High School, 204 students took the test and 53 percent scored proficient. None were advanced. At North Pulaski High School, 200 juniors took the test and 54 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At Searcy High School, 255 students took the test and 79 percent scored proficient or advanced, one of the better scores in the state.

ALGEBRA I

Algebra I end-of-course exams are given in January and April to students who are completing the course at that time. Most students take the April test. Across the state, 70 percent score proficient or better on the April Algebra I exam.

At Beebe High School, 86 students took the exam and 38 percent scored proficient or better, while 183 Beebe Junior High School students took the test and 82 percent made the cut.

In Cabot, 272 students at Cabot Junior High South took the exam and 86 percent scored proficient or advanced. At Cabot Junior High North, 329 students took the exam and 87 percent were proficient or better.

At the high school, just 13 students took the exam and 46 percent of them made the grade and at the Academic Center for Excellence, 19 students took the test and 58 percent scored proficient or better.

At Carlisle High School, 57 students took the test and 70 percent scored proficient or better.

At England High School, 60 students took the exam with 65 percent passing the test.

In Lonoke, 30 students at Lonoke Middle School took the test and 100 percent scored proficient or better. At the high school, 79 students took the exam and 69 percent made the cut.

In Pulaski County, 195 students from Jacksonville High School took the exam and 36 percent scored proficient or advanced. At Jacksonville Middle School-Boys, 33 students took the test and 88 percent passed, while at the girls’ campus, 18 students took the exam and 94 percent scored proficient or better.

At North Pulaski High School, 157 students took the test and 48 percent scored proficient or advanced, and of the 68 Northwood Middle School students taking the test, 93 percent made the cut. At Sylvan Hills High School, 137 students took the test and 45 percent scored proficient or better. At the middle school, 46 students took the exam and 89 percent were proficient or advanced.

In Searcy, of the 44 students at Ahlf Junior High School taking the exam, 100 percent were advanced and out of 201 students tested at Searcy High School, 94 percent were proficient or better.

GEOMETRY

The statewide average of students scoring proficient or advanced on the spring geometry test was 66 percent.

At Beebe High School, 220 students took the test and 73 percent scored proficient or advanced.

In Cabot, 514 students took the test at the high school and 71 percent scored proficient or better. Of the 109 students taking the test at Cabot Junior High North, 100 scored proficient or better and likewise for the 97 students at Cabot Junior High South. Of the 32 students at the Academic Center for Excellence taking the test, 44 percent passed.

At Carlisle High School, 65 students took the exam and 70 percent scored proficient or better.

At England High School, 64 students took the exam and 62 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At Lonoke High School, 129 students took the test and 66 percent scored proficient or better.

In Pulaski County, 264 students took the test at Jacksonville High School and just 36 percent scored proficient or advanced. At North Pulaski High School, 207 students were tested and 47 percent made the grade, while out of 261 students tested at Sylvan Hills High School, 57 percent were proficient or better.

At Searcy High School, 243 students took the geometry exam and 95 percent scored proficient or advanced.

BIOLOGY

Statewide, 41 percent of students scored proficient or ad-vanced on the April biology end-of-course exam.

At Beebe High School, 198 students took the test and 49 percent scored proficient or better.

At Cabot High School, 617 students took the test and 63 percent scored proficient or advanced. Of the 29 students at the Academic Center for Excellence taking the test, 14 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced.

At England High School, 70 students took the test and just 11 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced.

In Pulaski County, 253 students took the test at Jacksonville High School and 13 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At North Pulaski High School, 227 students took the test and 31 percent scored proficient or advanced. At Sylvan Hills High School, 224 students took the test and 26 percent made the grade.

At Searcy High School, 259 students took the test and 69 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At Lonoke High School, 109 students took the test and 44 percent made the cut.