The Absolute Rating report cards released this morning by the State Department of Education show that the absolute ratings for all schools with the exception of Union County High School remained the same. The high school’s rating rose from below average to average with a growth score of excellent.
While its absolute score remained below average, Lockhart Middle School’s growth rating rose to good. Director of secondary education Cindy Langley said that the improvement at both schools makes them eligible to receive the Palmetto Gold or Silver Awards.
“We are especially proud of the student performance at Union County High School and Lockhart Middle School,” she said. “At both schools the principals along with the assistant principals, counselors, teachers and staff have worked hard to create personalized learning experiences for each student by providing interventions before, during, and after school to meet individual needs. We congratulate everyone at both schools including the students and their parents for their hard work in achieving these goals.”
Created by the Education Accountability Act of 1998, South Carolina’s School Report Cards rate districts and schools as Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, or At Risk in their challenge to meet the state’s performance goal of having student achievement ranked in the top half of states nationally by 2010. Each school and district receives two state ratings: one for absolute performance, which measures student performance for a single year, and another for growth, which measures student performance over time. Since achievement levels must improve at a fast pace to achieve the state goal, the criteria for meeting the five ratings increases yearly. If student performance remains the same from one year to the next, the school’s absolute level may decline since the ratings range will have moved upward.
“Because of the state’s moving target a school’s absolute index score can improve but the school will remain in the same category,” Mrs. Langley said. “The performance index at Foster Park Elementary, Lockhart Elementary, Monarch Elementary and Sims Junior High improved over the previous year but their ratings remained the same because the targets went up. The performance level at Buffalo Elementary remained steady at 3.3, second only in achievement to Union County High School’s rating of 3.4.”
Elementary and middle school report card ratings are based solely on student achievement on the Palmetto Assessment Challenge Test (PACT) in the areas of English language arts, math, science, and social studies. PACT scores for students in grades 3-8 also account for 60 percent of the district’s absolute score. Thirty percent of the district’s absolute score is determined by the four-year high school graduation rate. The percentage of high school students scoring 70 or better on South Carolina’s End of Course tests and the percentage of second-year high school students passing the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) exit examination on the first attempt make up the remaining 10 percent of the district’s absolute rating. At the high school level, the absolute rating is based on graduation rate, longitudinal HSAP passage rate, first time HSAP passage rate and end of course test passage rate.
“Even with the state increases in criteria, we are beginning to see steady gains in student performance,” Dale Goff, assistant superintendent for instruction, said. “Our teachers have always worked hard, but through strategic and collaborative planning, they are working smarter than ever before. Our students are certainly the beneficiaries of this teamwork.
“One major instructional goal is to narrow the achievement gaps between all subgroups for students,” she said. “Our newly implemented Academy Time offers another opportunity to provide students more individualized opportunities for academic enrichment on a daily basis. Our students deserve our best efforts every day, and we are rising to this challenge.”
Along with the school report card, each student will receive letters or brochures developed by district and school administrators explaining highlights of the 2008 report card. Within the next few weeks, each principal will schedule a meeting to discuss the report card; however, parents who have individual questions or concerns should contact each school to receive an explanation of the report card scores. Copies of the state, district, and school report cards can be found at the South Carolina State Department of Education’s website: www.ed.sc.gov.