School report cards released for South Carolina

The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee released the 12th annual state district and school report cards Tuesday.

Student achievement improved in many districts and schools. however, South Carolina still has challenges ahead to prepare better all of our students for college and careers, especially in the state's historically underperforming areas, according to the EOC.

Click here to see how the Grand Strand and Pee Dee ended up.

The 2012 state report cards can be summarized in four points:

1: There was a significant increase in number of school districts and schools rated Excellent or Good because of overall improved student performance on a variety of measures and assessments.

· South Carolina has 42 school districts with an absolute rating of Excellent or Good in 2012, up from 33 in 2011, for a 27 percent increase.

· South Carolina has 629 schools with an absolute rating of Excellent or Good in 2012, up from 529 in 2011, for a 19 percent increase.

· Sixty-one percent of students attended schools with an absolute rating of Excellent or Good in 2011-12 school year

In our area, school districts listed as "improving:"

Marion 7 and Florence 1 are now in Average to Excellent range

Georgetown is in now in Good to Excellent

Florence 2 is now in Average to Good

Marion 1 moved from At Risk to Average

"Teachers, students, principals, school board members, parents, legislators and community leaders should be commended for the results on the 2012 state report cards," according to Neil C. Robinson, Jr., Chairman of the EOC.

Robinson reiterated that student performance drives the school and district rating system. Factors that attributed to the increase in the ratings included:

· Increases in 2012 PASS Scores in 17 of 26 content areas across grades 3 through 8, especially in science and social studies;

· an increase in the number of students passing End-of-Course assessments in English I, US History/Constitution and Biology;

· an increase in the number of students passing the High School Assessment Program (HSAP); and

· an increase in on-time high school graduation rate from 73.6 percent to 74.9 percent in 2012

2: The public schools continue to see an increase in the number of students in poverty.

· Seven in ten children attending public schools in SC are eligible for the free/reduced price lunch and/or Medicaid programs.

· Seven in ten districts in our state have a poverty index that exceeds 70 percent for its students.

There is evidence that schools and school districts are meeting and overcoming the challenges of poverty as they relate to student achievement. Of the 61 school districts with a poverty index above 70 percent, 21 had an absolute rating of Excellent or Good.

The third highest performing school district in South Carolina is now Darlington County with a poverty index of 82.41. The school districts of Calhoun, Barnwell 29 and Saluda are also rated Excellent with poverty indices above 80 percent.

Lake City High in Florence 3, and Socastee Elementary in Horry County each have a poverty index of 90 percent or greater and got an absolute rating of Excellent.

Seventeen schools had a poverty index of 90 percent or greater and got an absolute rating of Good including Creek Bridge High in Marion 7, South Conway Elementary in Horry County, and Washington St. Elementary in Darlington County.

3: South Carolina still has too many underperforming school districts and schools.

· In 2012, there are eight school districts rated At Risk, down from nine in 2011. Thirty schools with an absolute rating of At Risk in 2009 are still rated At Risk in 2012.

"In 2012, nine percent of children attended a public school with an absolute rating of At Risk or Below Average," stated Robinson. "We must put our energy into putting an end to persistent underperformance in these schools. The percentage has to come down."

In our area, Florence 4 was the only district to decline. It went from an Average rating to At Risk.

4: South Carolina: There is still significant need for improvement and innovation.

Currently, in South Carolina:

· One in four children still do not graduate from high school.

· One in five children is not reading on grade level in 3

"The solution is not more policies and programs driven from Columbia," stated Robinson. "Given the dramatic changes taking place in our world through technology and the increased expectations of our students, we need greater involvement of all stakeholders and greater innovation in the classroom."

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