COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's sophomores have ushered out the final year of the exit exam with their worst passing rate since 2009.
Data posted on the state Education Department website shows that 77.4 percent of first-time test-takers passed both the English and math sections of the High School Assessment Program last spring.
That's down from 82 percent in 2013. The passing rate had been climbing upward since its 2009 fall to 76.4 percent.
A new law signed in April replaces the HSAP with two tests considered more useful to students' future success.
The law also ended the three-decade-old requirement that students pass an exit exam to graduate.
Former students who didn't graduate solely because of the exam can petition their school board to retroactively receive a diploma.