Graduation rates, test scores improve for SC public schools

jself@thestate.comNovember 8, 2013 

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    District 2013 absolute rating2013 growthrating On-time graduation rate
    Kershaw Excellent Excellent 83.3%
    Lexington 1 Excellent Good 83.9%
    Lexington 2 Average Good 75.5%
    Lexington 3 Average Below average 77%
    Lexington 4 Average Good 69.5%
    Lexington - Richland 5 Excellent Good 87.7%
    Richland 1 Average Excellent 71.7%
    Richland 2 Excellent Excellent 81.1%

  • How S.C. students compare to the nation in math, reading The National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, evaluates states every two years based on students’ performance in math and reading. S.C. saw no significant changes in NAEP scores from 2011 to 2013, according to data released Thursday. The state ranked below the national average in every category. S.C. fourth- and eighth-graders’ 2013 NAEP scores in math and reading: 237

    Fourth-grade math score, no change from 2011 and below the national average of 241, which improved a point from 2011


    Fourth-grade reading score, down a point from 2011 and below the national average of 221, which improved a point from 2011


    Eighth-grade math score, down a point from 2011, and below the national average of 284, which improved a point from 2011


    Eighth-grade reading score, up a point from 2011, and below the national average of 266, which improved two points from 2011

State K-12 Report Cards

S.C. school districts overall improved on state report cards. The districts get two grades. One – the “absolute” rating – is based on student performance on standardized tests, high-school exit exams, end-of-course tests and graduation rates. The other – the “growth” rating – is based on improvement from year to year. How Midlands school districts performed:

More S.C. public schools and districts received excellent ratings on this year’s report cards than last year, and fewer were rated at risk – moving state education leaders to applaud what they see as widespread improvement in the state’s public schools.

On-time graduation rates also rose for the third consecutive year, including for students living in high-poverty areas. Graduation rates for African-American and Hispanic students saw stronger gains than rates for all students, according to the S.C. Department of Education.

Two Midlands school districts – Richland 2 and Kershaw – received excellent ratings on both student academic performance and improvement from the previous school year.

The improvement is a “tribute to the perseverance and work of all the people in the district” in years since deep budget cuts, said Frank Morgan, superintendent of the Kershaw school district, which rated below average in 2009. “Everybody kind of rolled up their sleeves and did what was best for the kids.”

S.C. schools Superintendent Mick Zais said he was proud of schools’ performance.

“We are putting the next generation of South Carolinians onto a path of prosperity and success. But this is a team effort,” Zais said. “It means all stakeholders having the same vision, from engaged parents, passionate teachers and committed students. Working with those in the education and business communities along with technical colleges, we are making great progress.”

All S.C. K-12 public schools and districts are rated annually based on graduation rates and students’ performance on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, high-school exit exams and end-of-course tests.

In the Midlands, Lexington 1 and Lexington-Richland 5 also received excellent ratings, while Lexington 2, 3 and 4 and Richland 1 were rated average. Richland 1 received an excellent rating for its improvement.

The percentage of S.C. high-school students graduating on time also improved to 77.5 percent for the 2012-’13 school year from 74.9 percent in the 2011-12 school year. That was the largest single-year increase in more than a decade, and the highest graduation rate since the state began measuring on-time graduation rates in the 2009-’10 school year, said the Education Oversight Committee, the state’s education accountability agency.

Graduation rates for four of eight Midlands districts were higher than the state average. Lexington-Richland 5 had a rate of 87.7 percent, the highest in the Midlands, followed by Lexington 1 with 83.9 percent, Kershaw with 83.3 percent and Richland 2 with 81.1 percent.

Kershaw, Lexington 2 and Richland 1 saw their on-time graduation rates improve by at least 4 percentage points from the 2011-12 school year.

The number of S.C. schools that received excellent ratings based on student performance on standardized tests and exit exams has increased for four years – to 400 in the 2012-’13 school year up from 188 in 2008-’09. The number of at-risk schools statewide has fallen to 47 from 83, and the number of below-average schools fell to 97 from 170 five years ago.


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