1/31/12 High school biology scores rise

High school biology scores rise
Drop seen in English, Algebra I results
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 1/31/12     
Reprinted with permission.

 High school test scores in biology went up in the Alamance-Burlington School System during the first half of 2011-12, while declining slightly in English and Algebra I compared to the first half of 2010-11.

 The percentage of students achieving what the state considers proficiency in biology was 86.2 percent in the fall, up from 79.1 a year earlier.

 The percentage of students achieving proficiency in English was 81.6 percent, down less than a percentage point from 82.1 percent a year earlier.

 In Algebra I, 65.3 percent of students achieved proficiency, compared to 66.4 percent a year earlier. Neither of those figures includes the performance of eighth-grade students who take the test at the end of the year.

 Dain Butler, the system’s director of accountability and school improvement, said the test scores are preliminary and are likely to change a little as results of re-tests continue to be added. But “it’s a close representation” of what final results will be, he said. Butler also warned against drawing too many conclusions about student progress before scores from the second half of the year are available in June.

 Butler reviewed the information with the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education during a Monday night meeting. He said it’s hard to say why biology results improved while scores in the other two areas dipped slightly. He did say the state’s elimination of some end-of-grade tests means educators have more time to focus on the remaining subjects.

 Board member Patsy Simpson said she wants to get more information about what efforts take place at schools when the percentage of students reaching proficiency in a subject is far lower than the system average.

 “Be very specific,” she said.

 Here are the results broken down by high school:

 Cummings High School: In Algebra I, 58.2 percent of students were proficient, up from 56.5 percent. In biology, 79.4 percent were proficient, up from 66.7 percent. In English, 68.2 percent were proficient, down from 80.4 percent.

 Eastern Alamance High School: In Algebra I, 81.9 percent of students were proficient, down from 82.6 percent. In biology, 91.5 percent were proficient, up from 76 percent. In English, 79.8 percent were proficient, down from 81.8 percent.

 Graham High School: In Algebra I, 54.7 percent of students were proficient, down from 60.8 percent. In biology, 90 percent of students were proficient, up from 77.9 percent. In English, 79.6 percent were proficient, down from 82.4 percent.

 Southern Alamance High School: In Algebra I, 62.6 percent of students were proficient, down from 69.9 percent. In biology, 88.5 percent were proficient, up from 83.5 percent. In English, 86.6 percent were proficient, up from 79.9 percent.

 Western Alamance High School: In Algebra I, 88.3 percent of students were proficient, up from 84.3 percent. In biology, 95 percent of students were proficient, up from 92.9 percent. In English, 89.7 percent were proficient, up from 88.3 percent.

 Williams High School: In Algebra I, 62.2 percent of students were proficient, up from 50.4 percent. In biology, 72.3 percent were proficient, down from 73.8 percent. In English, 86.9 were proficient, up from 83.3 percent.