Last updated: September 05. 2014 9:55AM - 975 Views
By - swillets@civitasmedia.com

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LUMBERTON — More Robeson County students passed standardized tests in the 2013-2014 school year, but the public school system still lags behind statewide performance.

“We see this as a step forward, but we have a long way to go. It indicates we are going in the right direction. We have to take improvement in incremental steps. We have to be able to maintain advances from the past, plus make additional progress. We are elated with any improvement, but it is a mammoth leap to maintain and to grow, especially with the new rigor in the Common Core Assessment,” Linda Emanuel, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Public Schools of Robeson County, said in a statement.

Across all subjects, fewer than 36.8 percent of students in the Public Schools of Robeson County passed their end-of-grade and end-of-course tests, according to reports released on Thursday. The local system did fare slightly better than the state on graduation rates.

The scores reported come from end-of-grade tests in reading and math for third- through eighth-grade students; science for fifth- and eighth-grade students; and end-of-course tests in math, biology and English.

Robeson County students performed the best on their end-of-grade science tests and end-of-course math and English tests.

In the 2012-2013 school year, 25.3 percent of Robeson County students passed, although grading guidelines have since changed.

“I attribute the improvement to a strong focus on the new standards as well as appropriate staff development based on data and aligning all of our partnerships and resources toward this goal,” Emanuel said.

Students who achieved a level 3, 4, or 5 on their standardized tests are considered passing. The 2013-2014 school year was the first year level 5 was incorporated, making the tests easier to pass — level 3 became level 4, and level 4 became level 5. Students at level 3 are at grade-level proficiency while levels 4 and 5 denote “college and career readiness.”

The statewide passing rate across all subjects was 56.3 percent, up from 44.7 percent last year.

Standardized test grades, often used to rate the success of schools and teachers, may now carry more weight. Under the new Read to Achieve program, third-graders who do not pass their end-of-grade tests in reading can be held back. On Feb. 5, all schools will be assigned a letter grade denoting their performance.

According to the reports, graduation rates have remained the same as 85 percent of Robeson County students and 83.8 percent of students statewide finished high school in four years.

In Robeson County, 81.8 percent of male students and 88.5 percent of female students graduated in four years. The graduation rate for blacks was 86 percent, for American Indians 84.6 percent, and for whites 83.6 percent.

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