Students to take optional EOCT retest due to low scores

Students+retesting+will+be+given+the+exam+Aug.+23.+Teachers+will+spend+five+to+ten+minutes+each+day+reviewing+for+the+test.

Photo by Audrey Baxter

Students retesting will be given the exam Aug. 23. Teachers will spend five to ten minutes each day reviewing for the test.

When David Custer, head of the math department, got hold of the 2013 Coordinate Algebra EOCT scores for Decatur, he was shocked at how low they were. When he compared the scores to the rest of the state’s, however, he was surprised to see that Decatur scored the second highest, and a point and a half away from being the highest scoring school in the state on the exam.

The EOCT, not seen since last spring, has decided to come back this fall to the Sophomore class.

 

Decatur High School has requested that a retake be given for all students who took the ninth grade Coordinate Algebra End of Course Test during the Spring of 2013. The retake is part of the Georgia Department of Education’s recent requirement that all schools raise minimum standardized test scores. All students will take the test again on Aug. 23, unless a parent signs a waiver giving them permission to skip the test.

 

Overall, scores for the Coordinate Algebra test fell in the lower ranges for almost all of Georgia Schools. The main reason for these dramatic drops is believed to be Common Core, a more rigorous set of academic standards involving more intense assessments of knowledge. “We were told that the assessments for this core were going to be really tough, so we expected a drop,” David Custer, head of the DHS math department, said.

 

When the scores plummeted rather than dropped, however, Custer was concerned. “When I saw that Decatur’s scores were low, I panicked. I was thinking, ‘Wow. What have we done wrong, what have we not understood? Maybe we just missed a critical point,’” Custer said.

 

That’s why when Custer reviewed the other schools’ results, he was shocked to see that Decatur scored second best on the test out of all the other schools in Georgia. “I’m encouraged to see that, apparently, we did do a pretty good job,” He said.

 

In terms of the DOE’s announcement about retakes for Georgia Public Schools, it was not something expected. “This all kind of caught us by surprise,” Custer said. “It wasn’t very publically announced, there was no press release about it. I’ve been wondering why it’s been kind of a secret.”

 

When the retake became public to the sophomore class at Decatur, the reaction wasn’t exactly positive. “Most people seemed like they didn’t want to retake [the EOCT] because everyone forgot everything from last year, and the last test was really difficult,” sophomore Kennedy Butterfield said.

 

Butterfield, who did not do well on the test last year, expressed frustration towards the difficulty level of the exam. “I’m annoyed because I don’t think I will do any better, considering I would have to relearn everything to do better,” she said. “But because our grades can’t go down, I think it’s a good idea to let people retake it,” she said.

 

In terms of preparing the students for the retake, Custer says there will be five to ten minutes each class day spent on reviewing for the Coordinate Algebra test. If students do not do well, however, they will not be punished.

 

“We decided as a school that by retesting, if anybody did worse, we’re not going to penalize them,” Custer said. “If they do better, then awesome. We’ll go back and change your grade from last year. Maybe it’ll bump you up from a C to a B or B to an A, or maybe it’s not going to matter – but if it’s going to hurt you, we’re just going to leave it alone.”

 

A letter was sent out yesterday to all parents of sophomores and freshmen who took the Coordinate Algebra test last spring announcing the opportunity for the retest, and a waiver can be signed by a parent if the student does not wish to take the retake.

 

Although Custer says the math department will prepare students as best as they can, the content of the test remains a mystery. “The big question for me is, I don’t know what this second test is going to look like. Is it going to be a different version of the test in the spring, or is it going to be easier to boost the scores up?” Custer wondered.

When David Custer, head of the math department, got hold of the 2013 Coordinate Algebra EOCT scores for Decatur, he was shocked at how low they were. When he compared the scores to the rest of the state’s, however, he was surprised to see that Decatur scored the second highest, and a point and a half away from being the highest scoring school in the state on the exam.