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HSAP Scores Increase

(November 9, 2006) -- Seven out of 10 Darlington County high school students passed the state’s exit exam on their first attempt in spring 2006, according to results released today the State Department of Education. That represents a 7 percentage-point improvement over the previous year.

Public high school students must pass the English language arts and mathematics sections of the new High School Assessment Program to meet South Carolina’s exit examination requirement for a diploma. The tests are initially administered in the students’ second year of high school, and students who do not post passing scores on their first attempts have additional opportunities to retake the test they did not pass.

Of the 47,000 10th-graders who took the second statewide administration of HSAP in spring 2006, 74.7 percent passed both sections by scoring at Level 2 or higher on the test’s four achievement levels. Last year, 71.8 percent of first-time test-takers passed both sections. In Darlington County, 70 percent passed both sections on their first attempt, as compared to 63.1 percent last year. Each high school also saw increases in the number of students passing both sections the first time.

Students scoring Level 2 or higher have “Met Standards” as outlined by the SC Department of Education and No Child Left Behind. When performance was broken out by subject area, 79.5 percent of first time HSAP-takers in Darlington County met standards in math in 2006, up from 68.6 percent in 2005. In English Language Arts, 79.1 percent of Darlington County students met standards in 2006, down slightly from 79.9 percent in 2005.

Last school year’s 10th-graders were the third group of students who had to pass the new HSAP exit exam in order to graduate. In previous years, students had to pass the Basic Skills Assessment Program (BSAP) exit exam developed during the 1980s, when statewide academic standards did not exist.

HSAP is based on South Carolina’s new rigorous academic standards, which became law in 1998 and which have been rated among the nation’s best. Students get their first opportunity to pass HSAP during their second year of high school and have additional opportunities to retake the test if needed.

In addition to functioning as South Carolina’s high school exit exam, HSAP scores also factor into high school Adequate Yearly Progress ratings under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which requires that all students score at a level of Proficient or higher by 2014. According to South Carolina’s NCLB plan, Proficient is equivalent to a score at Level 3 on HSAP’s four performance levels.

In mathematics, Darlington County scores improved from 36.8 percent scoring Level 3 and above in 2005 to 43.7 percent in 2006, an increase of almost 7 percentage points. On the state level in math, scores improved from 47.2 percent scoring Level 3 and above in 2005 to 49.7 percent in 2006. (When South Carolina first field-tested HSAP in spring 2003, only 30.7 percent scored Level 3 or above.)

In English Language Arts, 40.3 percent of Darlington County students scored Level 3 or higher in 2006, a decline from 42.4 percent in 2005. The state suffered a similar decline with the percentage of students scoring Level 3 or higher dropping from 55.7 percent in 2005 to 52.2 percent in 2006. (Only 29.4 percent of 10th-graders scored Level 3 and above in English language arts during the 2003 field tests.)

District and high school scores are available at http://www.ed.sc.gov/topics/assessment/scores/hsap/2006/default.cfm.

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