Tests results show some improvement

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Public high school students in Zachary, St. Tammany Parish and Central were among the top scorers in the state on test results released Tuesday.

Freshmen, sophomores and juniors enrolled in algebra I, English II, English III, geometry, biology and U.S. history courses were tested on their mastery of the subjects.

Less than 50 percent of students in East Baton Rouge Parish scored “good” or “excellent” on End-of-Course exams administered in December and May. The district’s 49 percent proficiency marked a 5 percent improvement from the last round of tests.

Orleans Parish students’ mastery jumped from 61 percent to 68 percent.

Suburban areas — with the exception of Baker — fared better with 75 percent of students in Zachary, St. Tammany and Central scoring “good” or “excellent.” Ascension Parish was just a bump down with 74 percent scoring “good” or “excellent.”

St. Tammany Parish Superintendent W. L. “Trey” Folse III said the scores were welcome news. “I know we’re working hard, and I say this all the time, we have a community that values education,” Folse said.

Zachary Community Schools Superintendent Scott Devillier said there is no secret to his district’s success.

He said school administrators have the support of the school board and the community.

“Our teachers are working hard to meet the needs of every student every day. We are constantly evaluating our data, and looking for areas of improvement,” Devillier said.

The test is a successor to the Graduation Exit Exam, which high school students formerly had to pass to earn a traditional diploma. Now students have to earn a “fair” or above in three of six subjects to earn a standard diploma.

Students can score “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “needs improvement.”

“Fair” is considered passing. But the state deems a student scoring “good” or “excellent” as proficient.

Statewide, high school students’ proficiency improved 4 percent compared to the last round of tests in December 2011 and May 2012. Fifty-nine percent of students across the state were proficient compared to 55 percent in the last round.

“Our educators and families have made it a priority that students master fundamental skills in high school, ultimately preparing our kids for college or a career,” State Superintendent John White said in a prepared statement.

The lowest percentages of “good” or “excellent” scores were in Claiborne, East Feliciana, Franklin, Madison, St. Helena and Tensas parishes, the City of Baker School District and the Recovery School District.

The biggest improvement was in Union, Evangeline, East Carroll, Pointe Coupee and Jackson parishes.

Statewide, English II was students’ strongest subject, with 75 percent scoring “good” or “excellent.” Nearly 50 percent of students scored “fair” or “needs improvement” in U.S. history, a new addition to the exam.

The tests will be revamped in 2015 as part of a nationwide drive for more rigorous academic standards. Starting with the 2014-15 school year, end-of-course tests in math and English will be replaced by exams linked to the new, common core curriculum.