Almost 80 percent of the state’s high school students passed the high school exit exam on their first attempt this year, according to results released Thursday by the South Carolina Department of Education. During their initial attempt last spring, 78.6 percent of 51,785 state high school students passed both sections of the exit exam by scoring at Level 2 or higher on the tests four achievement levels. That’s an improvement over 2009’s passing rate of 76.4 percent. State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex says the scores represented a rebound from the numbers that dipped in 2009 after three straight years of improvement.
Of African American students 77.6 percent passed the English/Language Arts portion of the test compared to 76.4 percent last year, 70.7 percent passed the Math portion compared to 67.6 percent in 2009, and 79 percent of Hispanic students passed the English portion compared to 76.1 percent last year. Of Hispanic students 77.7 percent passed the Math portion compared to 77.5 in 2009.
Rex says while almost 22 percent not passing both sections of the test on the first try is significant, it should be noted that the students’ initial attempt occurs while they’re in the 10th grade. Deputy Superintendent for Standards and Learning Valerie Harrison says for those students who fail to pass both sections of the test on their first try, the results still work in their favor because it shows what areas in which they need greater emphasis.
Education Department spokesman Jim Foster says beginning in the spring of their sophomore year, students have six opportunities to pass both sections of the exit exam in order to earn a high school diploma .
About half of the states require high school students to pass an exit exam in order to earn a diploma.
Rex says in the next two years or so he sees a decrease in testing.
Rex says South Carolina currently requires 24 credit hours to graduate from high school, while most states require fewer hours to earn a high school diploma.