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Students in South Carolina take a series of assessments during their school years, the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS), which fulfill the requirements of state and federal educational laws. Students are to be assessed in grades 3-8 and again in high school in literacy and math. Some states require additional assessments in core subjects like Science and History/Social Studies.
The framework for assessments under PASS upholds the requirements for testing while aligning the assessments to the South Carolina Curriculum Standards. This allows results to show that students are meeting the standards set out by the state; in addition it provides crucial data about instructional needs and school performance in teaching all students to the standards. One of the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act is that all schools will be educating 100% of their children to levels of proficiency by 2014.
For students in grades 3-8, the PASS Assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics contain only multiple-choice questions. On the English Language Arts section those questions are all tied to reading passages. These tests are given over multiple days in May.
The Writing Assessment that is given during grades 3-8 asks students to write an essay based on a given prompt and also offer a number of multiple-choice questions. This test is given over a two-day period in March.
The End-of-Course examinations in English I, Algebra I/Math for the Technologies 2, Biology I/Applied Biology II and US History and the Constitution give questions in a multiple-choice format. The questions will cover all the standards addressed in the learning frameworks developed by the state. The questions will range in difficulty and the ability to answer more difficult questions will reflect in the score a student receives.
When students receive their scores on the assessments they come in multiple formats. Students will receive a scale score which represent the number of correct answers, the level of difficulty of the correct/incorrect questions out of the total number of the questions. It is not a simple conversion because factors of question difficulty are taken into account. The scale score translates into an achievement level of which there are four, with 4 being the highest level of achievement.