PACT scores released today, students' scores about the same as last year

Scores were stagnant on two annual benchmark tests that elementary and middle school students took this past spring.

Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test results from 2007 show students continue struggling to improve their performance, a sign that schools could lose ground in their ratings when report cards are released this fall.

Here's a summary of the test scores:

-About one-third of the 300,000 students in grades three-through-eight met or surpassed a national standard on math and English/language arts sections, roughly the same success rate as a year ago.

-An estimated 228,900 students posted high enough scores on those tests to satisfy a lower state standard, according to test scores the state Department of Education released Thursday.

-When comparing results from 2007 to 2006, average math and English/language arts scores were virtually unchanged.

-Roughly 71,100 students received the equivalent of a failing grade on the 2007 tests.

-As students get older, their tests scores tend to decline.

-Students did better in 2007 on the science and social studies sections of PACT, both recent additions to the statewide tests. Only a sampling of children across all six grades took those two additional tests.

S.C. students in grades three-through-eight have been taking year-end math and English / language arts tests since 1999. No Child Left Behind, the federal school reform law, requires states to test those students in math, English/language arts and science.

“When a testing program matures, scores tend to become relatively stable and the gains become very, very slow,” said Janelle Rivers, who oversees testing for the Lexington 1 school system.

The state Department of Education uses PACT scores to generate annual report cards that summarize academic achievement at each public elementary and middle schools. School reform analysts say the state’s evaluation system is among the nation’s most rigorous.

On an individual level, teachers try to use PACT results to shape daily lessons as well as craft remedial strategies for students who fail to meet minimum performance standards.

PACT results also provide the public-at-large with a glimpse of the job educators do delivering a public education.

The latest report on standardized test scores comes a week after the release of scores on the college entrance exam, the SAT, that showed South Carolina high school graduates continue to lag behind their peers on that test.