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There is improvement, but more should be done: SC’s Department of Education says there is progress in students’ preparation for college

CHARLESTON, South Carolina – The Department of Education in South Carolina reports that public schools in the state made improvement in ensuring that students are prepared for college and careers, but the department also acknowledges that additional work has to be done.

The results of the Ready to Work and End-of-Course Examination Program assessment exams that were administered to high school students during the 2021-2022 academic year have been made public by the state.

“Preparing pupils to fulfill criteria for college and job preparedness must not be merely a dream in our state. It must be a must.” Molly Spearman, the superintendent of education, stated that “it is a responsibility that all of us must play a role in” in order to make progress toward finding genuine answers. “This is simply one way in which we will evaluate the performance of students in order to lead the work that lies ahead. We will continue to build on the success that has been made, and we are excited to investigate and pursue real activities that will have an effect on the level of academic achievement among our students.

The End-of-Course Examination Program administers exams for required high school courses as well as middle school classes that can be counted toward high school graduation credit. The following categories of knowledge are put to the test by the program: First-year algebra, second-year English, United States history and the Constitution, and first-year biology.

Subject Number
Tested in 2019
Number
Tested in 2021
Number
Tested in 2022
Mean Score
2019
Mean Score
2021
Mean Score
2022
Algebra 1 61,278 52,610 64,934 68.34 65.84 68.12
Biology 1 57,521 51,529 60,331 68.76 65.27 66.14
English 1 59,365 328 N/A 73.49 54.58 N/A
English 2 N/A 49,711 59,698 N/A 76.54 76.52
U.S. History/Constitution 52,211 45,253 53,113 69.03 64.59 65.07

The average score for Algebra rose from 65.84 in 2021 to 68.12 in 2022, coming quite close to matching the mean score of 68.34 that was recorded before the epidemic. The mean scores for Biology and United States History both climbed in 2022 but were lower than in 2019, and the mean score for English 2 was essentially comparable in both years, coming in at 76.54 in 2021 and 76.52 in 2022.

“We recognize that there is a considerable amount of work that needs to be done, but at the same time, we acknowledge the development and improvement that was exhibited in the results in comparison to 2021,” Spearman stated.

The results of the program, broken down by subject, were mixed. Although the number of students receiving failing grades fell in all disciplines with the exception of United States history, the proportion of students receiving failing grades remained significantly high in algebra (34.01%), biology (42.52%), and United States history and the constitution (43.55%). On the English 2 EOCEP exam, over 16% of students who took it received a failing grade.

The Ready to Work program is a career-readiness assessment that was given for the very first time in the spring of 2018 to all students in the 11th grade in order to determine student achievement in three essential subjects: applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information. The purpose of the assessment was to determine whether or not students were prepared for the workforce. In addition to that, it provides information regarding a student’s skills in areas such as problem-solving, goal-setting, decision-making, and self-direction through the Essential Soft Skills assessment. These abilities are absolutely necessary for achieving success in the workplace.

62.2 percent of the 6,616 students that were evaluated in 2021-2022 were successful in earning certificates.

R2W offers a specialized credential that demonstrates a student’s capacity to carry out difficult responsibilities and their suitability for a wide variety of employment opportunities. There is a Bronze certificate, followed by a Silver certificate, a Gold certificate, and finally a Platinum certificate. In order to receive a Bronze certificate, the student must achieve a cumulative score of at least three on all examinations (Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information). A minimum score of four is required for the silver tier, a minimum score of five is required for the gold tier, and a minimum score of six is required for the platinum tier.

Subject Total Students
Tested
No
Certificate
Received
Certificate
Bronze
Certificate
Silver
Certificate
Gold
Certificate
Platinum
Certificate
Certificate 6,617 37.8% 62.2% 27.7% 29.8% 4.4% 0.4%

The SCDE did not administer statewide WorkKeys assessment examinations last year, but they were administered at the district level.

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