EMBARGOED: DO NOT RELEASE BEFORE
4 p.m. Thursday, September 22, 2016
District high school students outperform
state averages on ACT, WorkKeys exams
BEAUFORT – District high school students outperformed their peers from across South Carolina on two key statewide exams during the 2015-16 school year, according to data released today by the South Carolina Department of Education.
Data released today covered two exams that all South Carolina 11th-graders are required to take: the ACT college entrance exam and the WorkKeys exam that allows students to earn “portable certificates” that can be used to qualify for jobs. The 2016 scores marked the second year of data for both exams.
“It’s encouraging to see our students again score above the state average, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “We want our students to be among South Carolina’s top performers and among the nation’s top performers. We also want to maintain the district’s positive momentum in student achievement. Our students and educators are working hard to do that.”
ACT college entrance exam
In the second year of South Carolina’s required statewide administration of ACT college entrance exams to all 11th-graders, Beaufort County students improved their overall scores and outperformed their peers from across the state.
District 11th-graders exceeded state averages in four of five subject areas measured by the ACT and tied in the fifth. District 11th-graders’ ACT average composite score was 18.3 compared to the state average of 18.2. Beaufort County 11th-graders’ composite score ranked them 17th among South Carolina’s 82 school districts.
Comparing 2016 scoring with 2015’s first year of required testing for all 11th-graders, Beaufort County students improved their average score from 18.2 to 18.3.
Looking at individual subject-area composite scores for district 11th-graders:
- English – 16.9 compared to 16.7 statewide.
- Mathematics – 18.4 compared to 18.4 statewide.
- Reading – 18.7 compared to 18.5 statewide.
- Science – 18.6 compared to 18.5 statewide.
- Writing – 16.3 compared to 15.4 statewide.
Looking at percentages of students meeting ACT subject-area scoring benchmarks:
- English – 41 percent compared to 40 percent statewide.
- Mathematics – 24 percent compared to 24 percent statewide.
- Reading – 30 percent compared to 30 percent statewide.
- Science – 23 percent compared to 21 percent statewide.
- Writing – 14 percent compared to 13 percent statewide.
In addition to state-required ACT testing in students’ junior year, individual students can choose to take the ACT additional times as seniors to increase their scores.
South Carolina requires all 11th-graders to take WorkKeys exams each spring, and students who post qualifying scores earn “portable” certificates at the Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels that can be used to qualify for good-paying jobs anywhere in the nation. Increasing numbers of businesses require job applicants to have WorkKeys certificates.
Among Beaufort County 11th-graders, 87.6 percent scored high enough to earn a certificate, compared to 86.8 percent of 11th-graders statewide. That marked a slight decrease from the first year of WorkKeys testing, which saw 90.2 percent of district 11th-graders score high enough to earn a certificate compared to 87.9 percent statewide.
“To have nearly 9 out of 10 students qualify for a WorkKeys certificate is significant,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “WorkKeys is basically a prescreening tool for job applications. It works for businesses because it’s a nationwide measuring stick for job applicants’ knowledge and skills. And it works for our students because they find out what they need to know if they’re going to be successful in good-paying jobs.”
Many employers recognize, recommend or require WorkKeys certificates as part of their hiring criteria. In South Carolina alone, more than 250 employers recognize the certificate.
WorkKeys exams comprise three 45-minute tests: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information and Reading for Information. More than 50,000 11th-graders took the test statewide, including 1,187 from the Beaufort County School District.
The mismatch between the skills required for most jobs and the skills of the U.S. workforce is having a significant impact on productivity and revenue across all businesses and industries. Employers need reliable ways to measure foundational skills to ensure that they are hiring the most qualified, trainable candidates.