The Aiken County School District’s scores on the SC-PASS standards tests for third through eighth grades dropped from 2012-13 and also fell below state results in English/language arts and math, said King Laurence, the associate superintendent for instruction.


With the State Department of Education changing its process for releasing test scores, Aiken District officials haven’t had a lot of time to study the results, Laurence said.


However, the lower scores in Aiken County mirror those in other districts statewide.


“But we’re in a transition time, and we’re still confused by the standards and what’s being tested,” he said. “I’m not making any excuses; but if a person is asked to perform to a certain level, we usually can tell what the expectations will be.”


In 2010, South Carolina agreed to introduce the Common Core academic standards.


Since then, teachers have been trained to use those standards in their classrooms.


The State Department of Education has begun to develop new, state-created standards, but Common Core will continue to be used through 2014-2015.


“This was supposed to be a bridge year,” Laurence said. “The old South Carolina standards and Common Core standards were tested, and there was some confusion with that. It really is something that will be hard to analyze this year and the next.”


Paul Krohne, the S.C. State Board Association executive director, called the release of statewide test scores haphazard.


The State Department put scores on its website on Monday with no accompanying information or explanation of them.


As a result, Krohne said, “local media and local school districts have had little to no time to digest, interpret and report the data. This has been a disservice to parents, students and our communities.”


The education department did not send out a press release from State Superintendent Mick Zais until Wednesday afternoon – two days after the agency put the test results online, which was a departure from the procedure of past years.


Zais made virtually no mention of the lower test results. Instead, he focused on “several issues of high accomplishments,” he said in the press release.


The “bridge” year could be followed by yet another as soon as next spring.


In the next few weeks, the State Department must choose a new assessment tool – replacing SC-PASS, which is being phased out.


Still, Laurence is confident the School District scores should improve in 2015.


“We’ll stay focused on high expectations for our students and match our instruction to the standards,” he said.


To see Aiken School District results on the State Department of Education website, visit www.ed.sc.gov/data/pass/2014 and then click on “Aiken.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter.