End of Course testing begins this week in parish

Published 12:04 pm Sunday, April 21, 2013

A high-stakes event for both schools and students, End-of-Course testing, will begin this week at public high schools throughout the parish.

Testing will get under way Tuesday at Mt. Hermon; Wednesday at Varnado High, Pine High and Bogalusa High; and Thursday at Franklinton High. The testing period will officially close May 17, though EOC assessment will wrap up weeks earlier at most schools.

Testing, done in three-hour-long settings, will begin this week in six core subject areas. Students are required to pass three of the six tests in order to graduate: algebra I or geometry, English II or English III and biology or U.S. history.

Possible scoring levels are needs improvement, fair, good or excellent. Franklinton High Principal Lisa Tanner fair is now accepted by the state as passing for graduation purposes.

However, the school is aiming higher than that. Tanner said End-of-Course testing comprises 25 percent of the School Performance Score, and students have to score good or excellent for the school to get any credit. EOC results of needs improvement or fair count as a zero in the School Performance Score.

Tanner said EOC scores are used for scheduling of students’ classes in the future and serve as indicators of how well they will perform in their college courses.

The tests also serve as the final exam in most cases. The state considers the EOC test to be the final in all subjects except U.S. history, since only one of the two years of field testing required has been done so far in that subject area.

Tanner said the state has left using the EOC test as the final in U.S. history up to the districts, and the Washington Parish School System is in the process of making a decision on it. The case is the same in the Bogalusa City Schools, said Linda Pittman, Bogalusa High assistant principal.

All EOC testing is done online, and Tanner said results are returned within two days.

To ensure students are prepared for the testing format, Tanner said Franklinton High teachers in the six subject areas have been bringing their students to the library once a week to practice with test prep offered through the state.

“Part of the issue,” she said, “is being able to manipulate the software and being able to take those tests online like that.”

There is a difference between hand-writing material in class every day and taking a high stakes test on a computer, and students need to be ready for that, Tanner said.

Incentives are being offered at Bogalusa High to encourage student success on EOC testing. The incentive program, Pittman said, is a first.

The incentives started Wednesday, when students were given bracelets during homeroom. Pittman students responded well to the program, known as JACKS, or Jacks Can All Know Success.

“It was very well received,” she said. “They loved the bracelets.”

This shows the students are excited about testing, Pittman said, and she thinks the incentives are helping to encourage students.

“It’s just a way to let them know we know they can do it,” she said.

Pittman said the incentives, which also include lanyards, note pads, pens and pencils with positive messages, will be offered each day through Tuesday during homeroom.

Positive messages for students have also been included in the morning announcements each day, Pittman said.

Tanner is also tossing around ideas about a way to reward students who did well on during recent ACT testing and those who will score good or excellent on their EOC assessments.

For the first time, all 11th-graders and all 12th-graders who had not done so previously were required to take the ACT, with those results counting as 25 percent of the School Performance Score. Testing took place statewide March 19. The remainder of the School Performance Score comes from the graduation index, 25 percent, and the graduation cohort rate, 25 percent.

Tanner said her students’ scores were very good, and Pittman said much improvement was seen at Bogalusa High, something she attributes to intensive tutoring that was offered to students prior to testing.