Wake schools miss state tests goal by a lot

From Staff ReportsAugust 20, 2008 

— New results presented Tuesday show that the Wake County school system fell far short of its goal of having 95 percent of students passing state tests by this year.

The passing rate was 78 percent on the end-of-grade math exams used in elementary and middle schools, up from 76.1 percent the previous year. Passing rates on high school end-of-course exams ranged from 60 percent to 87.7 percent.

The school board set the ambitious five-year goal in 2003. The board also said it wanted all student groups showing high growth on state exams by now.

School system leaders have blamed their failure to start several new academic programs on a lack of county funding. Those programs, the school board contends, would have moved the system closer to the goal.

But the state also has changed several of the exams in the past five years, lowering the passing rate in the process. For instance, Wake's passing rate on end-of-grade math exams dropped from 91.7 percent in 2005 to 74.5 percent the year the exams changed.

Wake is also continuing to narrow the racial achievement gap on the math tests with passing rates for black and Hispanic students climbing by more than 3 percentage points, compared with a 1.2 percentage point gain for white students.

Results for the new end-of-grade reading exams won't be released until November.

Results on the 10 end-of-course exams were mixed. The passing rate increased in biology, U.S. history, civics and economics, algebra I, algebra II and geometry. The passing rates declined in English I, chemistry, physics and physical sciences.

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