Better use of data could yield better EOCT results

There are times when raw statistics slap you in the face. This time it’s the end of course test results of Bibb County students in U.S. history, economics, ninth-grade literature, American literature, math I, math II, physical science and biology. There is a gap between Bibb student scores and the state averages -- some almost 40 points lower. And when compared with other systems in the state, Bibb is going in the wrong direction, as well. Surrounding school systems did better on the EOCT compared to 2011, while Bibb students performance dropped over last year in U.S. history, math I, math II, American literature and physical science.

What does this all mean? As the state phases out graduation tests, as much as 20 percent of a student’s grade in an EOCT subject will be determined by the test results. The EOCT is a much better measurement of progress than graduation tests. The EOCT is actually a final exam and will be a more accurate measure of a student’s knowledge of the subject matter. How a student handles the EOCT that begin in the ninth-grade can predict success or failure in high school. The results can also help school personnel focus in on individual student weaknesses.

There could be many reasons Bibb is lagging behind other systems. It could be that other districts aggregate student data better, identify weaknesses earlier and take steps to address those areas. To throw up one’s hands and consider Bibb students dumber than similar students in other geographic areas would be the wrong conclusion. Many of the same issues of poverty and parental involvement are in every system.

One thing is sure. It’s impossible to raise the graduation rate if the EOCT results remain mired in the gutter.

-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board