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South Carolina releases high school test scores. The results are not great


The state Department of Education Monday released the results of the Career Readiness and End-of-Course Examination Program, or EOCEP – a set of standardized tests measuring proficiency in English, algebra, biology, and US history among high school juniors in the state.

The results were less than impressive, even prompting words of concern from State Superintendent Ellen Weaver.

ON the plus side, mean test scores in all subjects were up, compared to last year. The mean score in English this year, for example, was 77.65, up from 76.52 in 2022; the mean algebra score was 69.12, up a full point from last year.

Also, the number of students scoring an F decreased in all subjects this year.

But the 2023 mean algebra score is a high D and the mean English score borders on a C-plus. Meanwhile, the percentage of F scores this year were 16 in English; 31.55 in algebra; 39.14 in U.S. history; and 40.81 in biology.

According to state data, at least half of students scored an F in algebra in 282 schools; in 420 schools, at least half of students failed U.S. history; and in 475 schools, at least half failed biology.

Only in three schools – Spartanburg 2, Spartanburg 4, and the Governor’s School – did more than 90 percent of students score an A in U.S. history; and in only one school – Spartanburg 6 – did at least 90 percent of students score an A.

No schools had more than 90 percent score an A in biology and no schools had more than 70 percent score an A in algebra.

“I’m particularly concerned that nearly 40 percent of students received a failing score on the U.S. History exam,” said State Superintendent Ellen Weaver said in a statement. “Our future depends upon citizens with knowledge deeply rooted in our shared story and America’s exceptional founding ideals.”

Weaver has pushed strong attention to civics education as a core component to a healthy democracy.

This year’s EOCEP scores closely mirror those of the SC READY tests given to middle school tests. The results of those tests, released earlier this month, show a similar uptick in test scores overall, but a high percentage of students who do not score at mastery levels of the subjects tested.

“The most recent math results underscore the need for us to dig as deep into evidence-based practices like high-dose tutoring to help turn the tide,” Weaver said. “The state is now working to prioritize and simplify standards and learn from effective strategies other states are using to propel student achievement forward.”

Scott Morgan is the Upstate multimedia reporter for South Carolina Public Radio, based in Rock Hill. He cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter and editor in New Jersey before finding a home in public radio in Texas. Scott joined South Carolina Public Radio in March of 2019. His work has appeared in numerous national and regional publications as well as on NPR and MSNBC. He's won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his work including a national Edward R. Murrow.