At midnight Monday, a deadline struck and Americans learned whether their Congress was able to fulfill its constitutional duty to pass a budget and continue to pay the governments bills.
At the same time, the latest scores from South Carolinas end-of-course exams were released, showing that just three out of five high school students could pass the U.S. History and the Constitution exam.
Locally, three of 13 public high schools in York, Chester and Lancaster counties have passing rates lower than 50 percent, according to results released today by the state Department of Education.
The local school with the highest pass rate was Lewisville High School, where 91 percent of students scored a D or above on the exam.
Fort Mill High School had the highest average score an 80.3 on a 100-point scale. Thats almost eight points above the statewide mean score of 72.7.
The exam for U.S. History and the Constitution is like the other three end-of-course exams, in that it is administered at the end of the semester that the corresponding course was taken. The exam counts for 20 percent of the students grade in the course.
The pass rates for the three other end-of-course exams algebra 1, biology 1 and English 1 also were higher than the previous year.
Questions on the exams align with state standards.
The statewide passing rate on the U.S. History and the Constitution exam was much higher than in 2012, when 52.8 percent of students passed. Of the four assessments, this was the largest gain in the pass rate.
The U.S. History and the Constitution exam consistently has been one of the most difficult end-of-course tests in terms of student success rates, said Scott English, the departments chief operating officer. The average student had been scoring close to the minimum passing score of 70.
For that reason, a small change in the average score could lead to a fairly big change in the passing rate, he said. The average score on the test increased 1.5 percentage points to 72.7 percent, and the pass rate jumped 7.8 percentage points to 60.6 percent.
The information drawn from examination of test statistics basically indicates a gain that is significant and to be applauded, but is not out of line for an examination of this type, English said.
Our conclusion is that it probably reflects increased knowledge of the curriculum standards and improvement in classroom instruction.
Think you could do better?
These questions were taken from the 2012-2013 U.S. History and the Constitution Teachers Guide and are representative of the questions on the exam:
1) Emily was born in the colonies. Her parents emigrated from England in the early 1700s. Her parents came because they were searching for freedom of religion and because her father wanted to work in a large city and make money by exporting agricultural goods. In which colony did Emilys family live?
2) What did the Mexican Cession, Bleeding Kansas and John Browns Raid have in common?
A. All were examples of Manifest Destiny.
B. All provoked increased debate over slavery.
C. All were sparked by conflict with Native Americans.
D. All helped Democrats win the ensuing presidential election.
3) Which philosophy of the early 1900s is expressed in the following quotation?
Natures cure for most social and political diseases is better than mans. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University
C. Social Darwinism
D. Gospel of Wealth
Answers: 1. B. 2. B. 3. C.
The (Charleston) Post and Courier contributed.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072