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Fort Mill, Nation Ford among best in SC on exit exam

Nearly all of the Fort Mill and Nation Ford High students who took the state's exit exam last school year passed on the first try, according to results released this morning.

Only six South Carolina schools topped Fort Mill High's pass rate of 96 percent. And those schools host specialized programs with far fewer students.

Nation Ford's pass rate was 94 percent.

Most high schools in York County saw an increase in the share of students who passed the High School Assessment Program test, or HSAP, on the first attempt.

The test serves two purposes: It assesses whether students know enough to earn a diploma, and the federal government crunches the scores to rate schools under the No Child Left Behind law.

Students take the two-part test - one each for English/language arts and math - in the first semester after their freshman year. Students who fail the test take it again.

Across South Carolina, 79.4 percent of the 50,793 test-takers passed on the first try. All but one of York County's seven high schools topped that - South Pointe High had 77.7 percent of students pass on the first try.

The state also released results for the 2010-11 school year's end-of-course exams. The uniform statewide tests account for 20 percent of a student's final grade in each course and are mandated by the state's 1998 Education Accountability Act. Scores also figure into school districts' annual ratings.

Students are tested in "core subjects" - English, algebra, physical science and history. Most students take those courses in high school, but advanced middle-schoolers take them as well.