UNION — Even though the percentage was slightly lower than in 2011, more than 70 percent of Union County High School (UCHS) students passed the HSAP exam on their first attempt in 2012.
Cindy Langley, director of secondary education, announced Friday that, according to the S.C. State Department of Education, “approximately three out of four students” at UCHS “passed both sections of the high school exit exam on their first attempt. Of the students taking the test for the first time in the spring of 2012, 71.2 percent met standard by scoring a Level 2 or higher on the test’s four achievement levels. That represents a decrease of 4.6 percentage points from the district’s rate of 75.8 percent in 2011. The percentage of students meeting standard on first attempt throughout the state increased 0.7 percentage points from 79.4 percent to 80.1 percent.”
The exit or HSAP exam is composed of two sections — English Language Arts and mathematics. The English Language Arts test includes a reading and writing subtest.
Langley said there was a slight increase in the percentage of students taking and passing the English language section of the exam on their first attempt. She said this was a continuation of a trend that began four years ago.
“Locally, 87.7 percent of the 309 students who took the test for the first time in 2012 met the state standard of Level 2 or above in English Language Arts compared to 87.5 percent last year,” Langley said. “We’re pleased to see continued gains in English Language Arts. The percentage of students passing the ELA section has risen over 10 percentage points in four years from 77.1 percent in 2009 to 87.7 percent in 2012.
While the percentage of students passing the mathematics section of the exam declined in 2012, Langley said this followed three years of improvement. She said the district is already at work reviewing the curriculum to put student performance on the mathematics section of the exam back on the upward track.
“The percentage of students passing math on first attempt had also been rising steadily since 2009, and we are confident that we can correct the dip in scores that occurred in 2012,” Langley said. “Teachers plan to include reviews in basic geometry in the math classes for all sophomores to strengthen their performance on that section of the math test.”
Langley added that the mean score for English Language Arts in Union County was 227 and 223 in mathematics. She said this exceeded the state targets of 223 and 220, respectively.
Statewide, the percentage of students meeting standard for English Language Arts rose from 88.6 percent to 89.1 percent while in mathematics it increased from 81.2 percent to 82.2 percent.
In addition to earning a minimum of 24 high school credits in designated areas, students must meet the state standard on both sections of the exit exam to receive a South Carolina high school diploma. Tests are first administered in the students’ second year of high school, and students who do not pass both sections of the test on their first attempt have additional opportunities to retake the sections they did not pass.
Langley said the district will help those students who didn’t pass the exam the first time be ready to do so on their second attempt.
“A major academic goal for the district is to increase the graduation rate in Union County, and student success on HSAP is a critical step in reaching that goal,” Langley said. “Students who did not pass the test on the first attempt will receive additional assistance to help them prepare for testing opportunities during their junior and senior years. Fall testing will begin October 23, and we encourage students and their parents to contact the guidance department at Union County High School for information about HSAP workshops.”