In the final year of the statewide EOCTs, students in the Cobb School District scored higher than the state average in all eight subjects tested, according to data released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education.
Students in the Marietta City School System, however, bested the state average in only two subjects, though their scores were within two percentage points of the state average in seven of the eight.
When compared to last year’s scores, Cobb students scored better this year than their 2013 counterparts in six of seven subjects; Marietta students scored higher in four of seven compared to last year.
Cobb County interim superintendent Chris Ragsdale said he is pleased with the district’s scores and gives all the credit to the system’s teachers.
“The success of our school district lies solely on the shoulders of our teachers,” he said. “So, the performance of our students on standardized tests — just like the EOCTs that we’re talking about here — the success of our district and the high scores and the high performance levels are attributable to our teachers and the great work that they’re doing.”
Since 2000, EOCTs have been administered to high school students in a variety of subjects. This year, students were tested in ten subjects, but two of those subjects — Geometry and Mathematics II — have largely been phased out or replaced by a new test this year: Analytic Geometry. Other subjects tested this year include Ninth Grade Literature and Composition, American Literature and Composition, Coordinate Algebra, Biology, Physical Science, U.S. History and Economics/Business/Free Enterprise.
Cobb students posted better scores than last year in all subjects except Physical Science, but the 2014 scores for that subject were within half a percent of 2013’s scores: 94.2 percent of students met or exceeded standards in 2014, compared to 94.4 percent in 2013.
“We had a couple of areas where it lagged a little bit. But overall, we saw increased scores in all subjects of the EOCT,” Ragsdale said.
In the three subjects in which Marietta students did not improve — American Literature, Economics and U.S. History — the scores for 2014 were within two percentage points of exceeding the scores for 2013.
The same is true when Marietta students’ scores are compared to statewide results. In five of the six subjects in which Marietta students scored below the state average — Analytic Geometry, Biology, Coordinate Algebra, Economics, Physical Science and U.S. History — students scored within two percent points of the state average, with the exception of the new test, Analytic Geometry.
Only 28.1 percent of Marietta students met or exceeded standards in the subject, compared to 34.6 percent for the entire state.
Because the test is new and the subject matter is difficult, it will be a challenge to raise scores on the Analytic Geometry test, said Emily Lembeck, superintendent of Marietta City Schools.
“Analytic geometry is baseline this year, so we have no trend data about that,” she said.
“However, I will say that it is going to be a staggering bar to meet or exceed standards. And there’s a lot of work that will need to be done for our students to master this much more rigorous curriculum.”
Beginning next year, students from third to 12th grade will take new tests called the Georgia Milestones, which will also replace the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests previously administered to students in grades one through eight. The new standardized tests are designed to be more in line with the state’s Common Core standards.
According to Lembeck, the new tests will be similar to the old tests.
Grades three through eight will be tested at the end of the year in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, she said.
In high school, students will be tested at the end of certain courses, as they are with the EOCTs. In fact, the courses tested by the Milestones system will be the same courses tested by the EOCTs, with Geometry and Mathematics II removed, she said.
The new tests will provide a challenge to both school districts because educators haven’t seen the new tests, Ragsdale said.
“I think all the districts are in a state of flux to some degree — anticipating exactly what those tests are going to be,” he said.
The new tests are meant to be more rigorous for students, which Ragsdale said is encouraging because the district wants students to perform at the highest level. No matter the format or content, Ragsdale said the tests should be designed to gauge student achievement.
“The test, regardless of what it is, should just be a measurement of what’s happening in the classroom,” he said. “So, if we’re maintaining the great job the teachers are doing, then that’s going to be reflected in whatever test is administered. Now, that’s not to say it’s a given that we’re going to have great performance because, again, we’re still waiting to see the details of what the (Georgia) Milestones are going to have and be made up of.”