Muscogee County schools shine on state high school tests

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 16, 2014 

The Muscogee County School District administration building is at 2960 Macon Road.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

On the state's standardized tests for high schools this spring, the Muscogee County School District exceeded or met the state average in six of the eight measured subjects and improved its passing rate in five of the seven comparable subjects.

The Georgia Department of Education released the 2014 End-of-Course Test results for the state's public school districts Wednesday. The scores for each high school are expected to be released later this summer.

"Our students and school communities are commended for their hard work toward achieving full option graduation," Muscogee superintendent David Lewis said in a news release.

Muscogee exceeds the state average in American literature & composition, coordinate algebra, biology, physical science and economics and met the state average in U.S. history. The district scored below the state average in ninth-grade literature & composition and analytic geometry.

Muscogee's biggest improvement was in physical science, where its passing rate of 88.5 percent in 2014 is 12.0 points higher than 2013. Passing the test means the student met or exceeded the state standard. The district's passing rate also improved 5.2 points in biology (to 82.2), 3.4 points in coordinate algebra (to 41.5), 3.1 points in economics (to 81.3) and 2.2 points in American literature & composition (to 92.8). Muscogee's passing rate dropped 3.0 points in U.S. history (to 72.8) and 1.2 points in ninth-grade literature & composition (to 85.0).

The district released a five-year comparison for the six subjects with data that goes back that far, and Muscogee has significant gains in each area. With rounded percentages, from 2010 to 2014, the district improved by 25 points in physical science, 22 points in U.S. history, 16 points in biology, 11 points in economics, 6 points in ninth-grade literature and 6 points in American literature.

Harris County exceeded the state average on five EOCTs this year: ninth-grade literature & composition, coordinate algebra, biology, physical science and U.S. history. Compared to last year, Harris County improved its passing rate by 8.1 points in coordinate algebra (to 44.0), 4.2 points in ninth-grade literature & composition (to 91.4), 2.7 points in American literature & composition (to 90.1), 2.0 points in physical science (to 91.4) and 1.6 points in U.S. history (to 82.7). Harris fell by 7.5 points in economics (to 69.0) and 6.4 points in biology (to 76.1).

Harris County's new superintendent, Jimmy Martin, started in the position July 1 after six years as the system leader in Chattahoochee County. So he isn't as familiar with the district's performance as he will be, but he knows enough now to make this assessment:

"Our scores overall look really good, and that's really a testament to the administrators and the teachers and especially the students and their diligence in making sure Harris County continues to meet and exceed the standard," Martin said. "Our folks are already looking at finding ways to improve. Talking to our curriculum people, they're already diving into those numbers."

Chattahoochee County exceeded the state average on only one EOCT, biology, but the district improved on all of its comparable EOCTs from last year: by 10.9 points in biology (to 78.7), 7.3 points in U.S. history (to 62.5), 5.6 points in American literature & composition (to 90.0), 3.3 points in ninth-grade literature & composition (to 82.9), 1.4 points in physical science (to 75.8) and 0.7 points in coordinate algebra (to 18.3).

Richard Cooley, the interim superintendent in Chattahoochee County, wasn't reached for comment on his district's results.

Acknowledging the math scores are alarmingly low statewide, Georgia superintendent John Barge explained in a news release that those EOCTs are based on tougher standards as the state prepares to implement the more rigorous Georgia Milestones for the standardized tests, which will replace the EOCT in high school and the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in elementary school and middle school.

"The Analytic Geometry (a new EOCT) and Coordinate Algebra results give us another look at the new level of increased expectation for student achievement that is coming with Georgia Milestones," Barge said. "The expectations to meet standards are significantly increasing so we have a new and more realistic baseline of student performance. While these 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' college and career readiness level is. We must address this head-on so our students leave our schools with the best preparation possible to succeed in life after high school."

EOCT RESULTS FOR 2013-14: District: 2013 | 2014 | (+/-)

Ninth-Grade Literature & Composition

• Muscogee: 86.2 | 85.0 | -1.2

• Harris: 87.2 | 91.4 | +4.2

• ChattCo: 79.6 | 82.9 | +3.3

• State: 85.7 | 87.7 | +2.0

American Literature & Composition

• Muscogee: 90.6 | 92.8 | +2.2

• Harris: 87.4 | 90.1 | +2.7

• ChattCo: 84.4 | 90.0 | +5.6

• State: 90.8 | 92.6 | +1.8

Coordinate Algebra

• Muscogee: 38.1 | 41.5 | +3.4

• Harris: 35.9 | 44.0 | +8.1

• ChattCo: 17.6 | 18.3 | +0.7

• State: 36.9 | 40.2 | +3.3

Analytic Geometry

• Muscogee: NA | 33.3 | NA

• Harris: NA | 29.0 | NA

• ChattCo: NA | 12.6 | NA

• State: NA | 34.6 | NA

Biology

• Muscogee: 77.0 | 82.2 | +5.2

• Harris: 82.5 | 76.1 | -6.4

• ChattCo: 67.8 | 78.7 | +10.9

• State: 74.5 | 75.0 | +0.5

Physical Science

• Muscogee: 76.5 | 88.5 | +12.0

• Harris: 89.4 | 91.4 | +2.0

• ChattCo: 74.4 | 75.8 | +1.4

• State: 82.7 | 84.6 | +1.9

Economics

• Muscogee: 78.2 | 81.3 | +3.1

• Harris: 76.5 | 69.0 | -7.5

• ChattCo: NA | NA | NA

• State: 78.9 | 81.2 | +2.3

U.S. History

• Muscogee: 75.8 | 72.8 | -3.0

• Harris: 81.1 | 82.7 | +1.6

• ChattCo: 55.2 | 62.5 | +7.3

• State: 72.6 | 72.8 | +0.2

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow Mark on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.

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