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Saturday, September 13, 2008

York Area PACT Scores - More Than You Want to Know

The soon to be retired PACT test was started in 1999 as part of the South Carolina Accountability ACT. Many legislatures believed they were implementing a test that would be used to remove bad teachers and retain students who didn't meet SC State Standards. The test was so difficult to score, results have never been received in time to retain students and the information, coupled with changing students, was all but impossible to be used to remove teachers.

Then No Child Left Behind (NCLB) came to be and the PACT test was then migrated into the NCLB requirements - something it was never meant to be. The use of PACT helped give SC education a black eye because it is one of the few world class exams used for NCLB measurement (see chart to left). This doesn't mean we don't have a lot to work on, just that we have higher standards than other states and our NCLB numbers look worse than they would if the same test were used in every state.

Some York County Area District numbers for the 2008 PACT test are below. The numbers represent the average percentage of Free & Reduced Lunch (F&R) students who score Below Basic (BB) on all PACT tests and the average percentage of Non- F&R students who score BB on all PACT tests. There are a lot of other areas which can be compared - but these students are the ones most likely to drop out of school before graduation.

District % of F&R Students Testing Below Basic (all tests) % F&R % of Non F&R Students Testing Below Basic (all tests)
Fort Mill 25.34 16.7% 6.91
Clover 30.24 28.4% 11.00
York 31.17 51.3% 16.49
Rock Hill 36.07 45.3% 13.09
State Avg 37.48 53.0% 14.46
Lancaster 38.85 48.2% 18.42
Chester 47.48 61.3% 26.14

As has been reported, scores were not significantly different than last year. However, the big shock is going to come in November when NCLB report cards arrive. NCLB requires a leap in tests scores for the 2008-09 year to stay on track for every student to exceed expectations by 2014. A lot of schools that have been "passing" schools will be graded as "failing" even though they might have made small progress from the previous year.

So, as a parent, what does this mean?

You will be fine as long as you read to your preschoolers, keep interested and support you child in elementary school (including volunteering in school), and keep your child in advanced classes in middle and high school. Parental support and interest continues to be the biggest factor in education success.

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