Four Union County Schools have been recognized as among the highest performing schools in South Carolina and served as model schools for the state.
In a statement released Thursday, Cindy Langley, director of Secondary Education for the Union County School District, announced that all four of the district’s Title I elementary schools have been named Reward Schools for Performance according to information received from the South Carolina State Department of Education. Buffalo Elementary School, Foster Park Elementary School, Jonesville Elementary/Middle School (JEMS, and Monarch Elementary School are among the state’s highest performing Title I schools as identified by South Carolina’s newly revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act/Federal Accountability System. These school will be eligible for further recognition by the state and will serve as model Title I schools in South Carolina.
Approved in July 2012 by the United States Department of Education to replace the all or nothing No Child Left Behind Act, the state’s new federal accountability system has been designed to assign each school and district a letter grade from A to F for overall school effectiveness and individual student group growth. Buffalo, Foster Park, and Monarchl each received a grade of A under the new federal accountability system while JEMS received a grade of B. Though it is not a Title I school and therefore is not eligible for Reward School recognition, Lockhart Schools also received an A for its federal accountability rating. Sims Middle School received a C; Union County High School, an F; and the District, a B.
Calculations for elementary and middle schools are based on student performance on current year PASS (Palmetto Assessment of State Standards) tests in English/Language Arts, math, science, and social studies. English/Language Arts and math scores are weighted at 35 percent each with science and social studies scores weighted at 5 percent each. The remaining 20 percent is comprised of the percentage of students tested in English language arts and mathematics.
Calculations at the high school level are based on student performance on current year HSAP (High School Assessment Program) scores in English/Language Arts and math weighted at 22.5 percent each; 2010-2011 End of Course scores in science and social studies weighted at 5 percent each; 2010-2011 graduation rate weighted at 30 percent; and the percent tested on each HSAP area at 7.5 percent each. The district calculation also includes the 2010-2011 graduation rate at 30 percent in addition to the performance scores in English language arts, math, science, and social studies and participation scores at comparable weights to the high school calculation.
With the approval of the United States Department of Education, the South Carolina Department of Education has created Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) in each of the above areas that will increase yearly. All students in each school or district as well as each group of thirty or more students based on factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability, or socioeconomic status must meet the AMO. Groups meeting the AMO receive a value of one point. Groups who do not meet the AMO but who improve over the previous year receive a partial score of 0.1 to 0.9 points. Points are tallied and weighted based on the performance and participation categories to calculate the overall composite index and corresponding letter grade for each school and district.
“Our elementary schools received excellent federal accountability ratings and have set the bar high for student achievement in Union County,” Langley said. “Our overall graduation rate of 72.8 percent for the Class of 2011 fell short of the state average of 73.1 percent. While groups such as females and African Americans surpassed the state average at 75 percent and 77.8 percent respectively, our job is to ensure that all students graduate on time with college and career-ready skills.
“Changes such as the move to the seven-period day to increase instructional time and restructuring of the 9th grade academy have been implemented to provide greater support for students,” she said. “When they return in August, teachers will participate in staff development activities to assist them in designing and delivering lessons at the appropriate level of rigor to increase student engagement. Additionally, students in End of Course subjects at the high school will take new benchmark tests throughout the year to measure individual progress.”
Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall said “we are proud of our students’ accomplishments and appreciate the hard work of our teachers and administrators. We continue to look for ways to improve so that we will offer an excellent opportunity for all students in Union County.”
Federal accountability reports for each individual school and the district will be posted to the district website (www.union.k12.sc.us). Parents who wish additional information may contact their student’s principal. Since South Carolina has a separate state rating scale, the district and each school receive state accountability report cards in November.