Just got the news of how my juniors and seniors did on their graduation test retakes. All our sophomores take the test; it’s how we are evaluated for AYP. Last year, we had an exceptional year, raising our first time pass rate from 74% to 87%. I think, but am not sure, it’s because our algebra sophomores did much better than expected; all algebra teachers had a pass rate between 50 and 60 percent. I couldn’t find any numbers on what a normal rate is, so I’m going to check again this year and see how it goes.

Here’s an interesting stat I found in running numbers. I broke down all the students based on what math they took last year and this year–that is not as easy as it sounds. I couldn’t find Geometry repeaters easily, and that’s probably 10-15%. But then, most geometry repeaters would almost certainly be juniors and thus not testing. Then I had to find out how many algebra students took pre-algebra last year, since a Basic in pre-algebra is very different than a Basic in Algebra. Then not all students had test scores for both years– I lost about 40%. Still, it was interesting.

Comparing geometry and algebra students with similar algebra state test scores reveals that geometry students have a higher pass/proficient rate, but not dramatically so, given the numbers. This is going to help me out when planning test prep next month. I’m going to push more students to shoot for proficient, while focusing tutoring help and attention on my weakest algebra scorers to give the more support just for passing.

Yeah, those pre-algebra FBB numbers are weird, aren’t they? None of my students were among them. I checked with the teachers and they shrugged–all of them had been good students from day one. But they confirmed that they’d all taken pre-algebra the year before. Half of the pre-algebra Below Basic students are mine; they were all very weak students.

Back in November, our school had a retake for those who hadn’t yet passed it. I gave my students time to prepare, and even devoted a couple class lectures to understanding how the multiple choice tests were constructed and how they are much easier than they look. I stressed using their logic and reasoning rather than calculations and showed them how that was done. I’m pleased to say that 11 of my 18 retakers passed. Three juuuuuust missed passing. One of them has a terrible time taking tests and has skills well above most of the students who did pass. Two of the remaining failers were stopped for goofing around (sigh) and one of them, who has since left the school, doesn’t fall into any of those categories, but I’m not going to say what happened in case it identifies the student in some way.

Five of algebra students who failed last March took the test again (two are in my class this year). Two of them passed, one just missed.

Good news overall.