Thirty-one percent of Charleston County eighth-graders fail standardized reading test

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Statewide scores from the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards were released this morning, and Charleston County School District has some good news and some bad news. The PASS Test, first administered in the 2008-2009 school year, assigns students in grades three through eight a rank of Exemplary, Met, or Not Met in the areas of English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Fifth and eighth grade students also take a Writing test. Exemplary and Met are considered passing scores; Not Met is not.

We’ll hit you with the good news first:

THE GOOD NEWS:

• For the third year in a row, the percentage of CCSD students who scored Exemplary was higher than the statewide percentage for every subject and grade level.

• Some racial achievement gaps began to close up between 2010 and 2011 in the district. In Math, the percentage-passing gap between white students and African-American students decreased by about 3 points. White and Hispanic students also closed a Math achievement gap by about 3 points.

THE BAD NEWS:

• Family income was a pretty good predictor of success on the test. For every subject and grade level, CCSD students who paid full price for their meals were more likely to pass than students whose meals were subsidized. The performance gap was wide. On the Grade 8 Social Studies test, for example, 88 percent of students getting full-pay meals passed, compared to 60 percent of students getting subsidized meals.

• In Grade 8, 31 percent of CCSD students failed the English Language Arts test, just below the statewide percentage of 32.

THE INTERESTING NEWS:

• Overall, girls fared slightly better than boys. Across all subjects and grade levels, 75 percent of girls in the district passed, compared with 71 percent of boys.

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