Begin testing period for End of Course exams

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires all students graduating from the state's public high schools in the Class of 2013 to take exams at the end of their course of study in English II, Biology, Algebra and government. Exams are also available in four other areas. The Mexico School District has chosen to administer all eight exams to students this spring.
Unlike traditional tests such as the Missouri Assessment Plan (MAP) or the ACT, the score received on the test will count as part of the student's second semester grade. "The EOC exams are intended to serve as final exams in the areas," Gina Gilman, District Curriculum Facilitator, said. "We have structured the testing schedule so that the score for each test will be received in time for teachers to count it as 10 percent of the semester grade."
The teachers also review the scores, and use the results to set goals based on the areas of strength and weaknesses identified. "EOC exams are good for students as they provide the opportunity for students to see where they stand academically in the state of Missouri," math teacher Christina Gerber said. "In our department, we all use released EOC questions as well as ACT practice questions on homework assignments in order to familiarize our students with the type of questions they will see on those tests.
The EOC assessments are standards-based, which means they measure now well students are mastering specific skills defined by the state for each subject. "End of Course exams provide schools feedback on the delivery of content, letting us evaluate our educational programs," Zach Templeton, assistant superintendent, said. "The expectations are outlined clearly regarding what students are expected to know, therefore we can hone our curriculum to agreed-upon expectations."
All exams are administered via computer. Mexico High School will switch to a block schedule for the testing period April 22-May 3 to maximize the computer labs for testing. "We use a block schedule during EOC testing to provide students with ample time to complete exams without interruption," Kris Turlington, MHS counselor, said. "We do this to make sure the classes which are EOC testing have two consecutive days to complete the exams which have a session I and session II."
The computer format of the exams will help prepare students for many future testing situations, at the collegiate level and in licensing exams that may be required for some professional certification. "The online testing format will expose students to formats which they will encounter in the future," MHS Principal Terry Robinson said. "Online testing and even complete courses on computers are becoming common."
The English II, Algebra I and Biology assessments' two sessions include selected response items in the first part and a performance event in the second part. The other exams, English I, Algebra II, Geometry, American History and Government, have only one session.
Not every state gives the same exams. "All states are responsible for testing their students and reporting to the Department of Education," Gilman said. "The tests are not all the same; many are not as rigorous as ours."
The exams are designed to coordinate with the course level expectations in each subject. "In the past, a student tested in tenth grade math, for example, may have been expected to have exposure to Geometry, but may not have completed that course as a sophomore," Templeton said. "This method provides schools the greatest opportunity to be fairly evaluated on the progress of students."
While EOC exams are only one measure of academic proficiency, Robinson acknowledges their importance. "The broader reality is we are faced with the challenge of increased accountability to the state, federal government and local community," he said. "We need strong parent support to help us send the message to their children that these tests are important, and students need to do their very best on EOC tests."

Are you smarter than a Missouri high school student?
(The following sample questions have been released from previous exams. The correct answers follow.)

Algebra I:
1. Aaron listed the ages of all of his family members as shown below.
10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 12, 14, 14, 15, 16, 50, 50, 51, 53, 80
What is the mean age of his family members?
A. 10
B. 14
C. 27
D. 70

2. The number 18 is 24% of which number?
A. 4.32
B. 75
C. 133 1/3
D. 432

3. The enrollment at High School R has been increasing by 20 students per year. Currently High School R has 200 students attending. High School T currently has 400 students, but its enrollment is decreasing in size by an average of 30 students per year. If the two schools continue their current enrollment trends over the next few years, how many years will it take the schools to have the same enrollment?
A. 4 years
B. 5 years
C. 10 years
D. 20 years

English II
4. Read the paragraph.
1This summer my family went to washington D.C. for vacation. 2First, we visited Arlington National Cemetery and viewed the Lincoln Memorial. 3Then we toured the white house and picnicked around the Reflecting Pool. 4We toured many other Famous sites, before we had to go home.
Which sentence is correct?
A. Sentence 1
B. Sentence 2
C. Sentence 3
D. Sentence 4

5. Which sentence is correct?
A. Anne and Fred live near lake Superior, in a subdivision called Bent creek.
B. Anne and Fred live near lake Superior, in a subdivision called Bent Creek.
C. Anne and Fred live near Lake superior, in a Subdivision called Bent Creek.
D. Anne and Fred live near Lake Superior, in a subdivision called Bent Creek.

6. Which sentence is correct?
A. Iced tea was served to the wedding guests in green glasses.
B. The exotic bird was one foot tall with red feathers weighing two pounds.
C. The young woman returned to her home after buying groceries in her car.
D. The President spoke about current issues with the students as if they were adults.

7. A population of salamanders that live in a river require clear, fresh water to survive. A flood causes tons of sediment to be suspended in the river. Which of these most likely will happen to the salamander population?
A. The salamanders will adapt to life on land.
B. The salamanders will move to another river.
C. The salamanders will adapt to living in the muddy water.
D. The salamanders will decrease in number because of the water quality.

8. Which of these would be least likely to diffuse across the phospholipid bilayer of a cell membrane?
A. water
B. oxygen
C. sodium ions
D. carbon dioxide

9. Which of these directly allows blood cells to transport oxygen to various parts of the body?
A. carbon dioxide
B. hemoglobin
C. antibodies
D. platelets

(ANSWERS: 1) C; 2) B; 3) A; 4) B; 5) D; 6) D; 7) D; 8) C; 9) C.)