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PACT scores mixed

Local schools saw mixed results on state achievement tests this year, with small gains in some subjects and small losses in others.

Results from the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests, given to elementary and middle school students each spring, were released Thursday. PACT assesses third- through eighth-graders' knowledge of English/language arts, math, science and social studies.

Of the four York County districts, students in Fort Mill generally performed the best in all four subject areas.

Scores categorize students' knowledge as below basic, basic, proficient or advanced in each subject. The state standard requires basic proficiency.

The scores are broken down by grade level in each subject.

Many schools saw some improvement in science and social studies scores.

Those subjects were added to the test several years ago.

Here's a look at how each district made out:

Rock Hill

Rock Hill's scores were similar to last year's across the board. Students did the best on the English/language arts and math sections.

"I think, in general, our scores are pretty flat," said Harriet Jaworowski, Rock Hill's associate superintendent for instruction and accountability.

"We had the same issues with the same subgroups of kids."

Jaworowski said the district recognizes that more work needs to be done to reach students in poverty, and officials are working to implement programs to support them.

Rock Hill schools are in the process of completing curriculum maps designed to give teachers a guide for what to teach when.

One of the purposes is to make sure students are taught all of the material they're tested on.

Fort Mill

In Fort Mill, where students traditionally post scores among the highest in the state, more than 90 percent of elementary school students met standards in English/language arts, and 96 percent of third-graders met the standard.

Fifth-graders improved their math scores, with 94 percent reaching standards.

Marty McGinn, Fort Mill's director of middle and secondary education, said she was "encouraged and pleased" that middle school students improved scores in math, science and social studies.

"We're most happy with the whole positive direction of the scores," she said. "It's clear teachers are focused on standards and teachers are achieving."

Chester

Less than half of students tested met the basic standard for science in Chester.

Seventh and eighth grades were the only two levels to meet that mark.

Despite the low numbers, science scores in most grade levels did go up.

School district officials in Chester were not available for comment Thursday.

Clover

Superintendent Marc Sosne said he was pleased with Clover's scores and would analyze them to find out what's going well and set goals for future improvement.

Overall, students scored the highest marks in math and English/language arts.

Like other districts, Clover students from lower economic backgrounds tended to fare worse on the test than their peers.

"Generally what you find is that kids who grow up in poverty don't have the same educational advantages as kids who grew up in middle class homes," Sosne said. "They don't have reading materials. They don't take educational trips."

At the same time, Sosne said poverty is not an excuse for lower scores.

Studies in other areas of the country have shown that if schools can get parents and students excited and involved in learning that scores will go up, he said.

York

Accomplishments varied across schools in York, where overall students did best in math and English/language arts.

"I think that (the scores) are better in some areas," Jefferson Elementary School Principal Jane Wallace said. "We're still not up to where we need to be in other areas. We know that there is plenty to work on."

York Junior High School's scores were fairly consistent with last year's scores.

"There's not a wide discrepancy when you look at our scores across the board," Principal Louvetta Dicks said. The goal this year will be to improve scores in all subjects, she said.

Key to accomplishing that goal is letting the teachers know what standards are expected of the children and then making sure that information is taught in the classes, she said.

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