Education

SC school report cards are out. See here how your school district fared

The latest South Carolina school report cards are out.

Of the seven school districts in Richland and Lexington counties, Richland 1 stuck out for reaching historic highs.

Richland 1 school district graduated the highest percentage of students — 82.2 percent — last year than ever before, the district announced Tuesday. It’s also the first time, since at least 2016, that Richland 1 has exceeded the state average graduation rate, data show.

The S.C. School Report Cards, issued annually by the S.C. Department of Education, measure district- and school-specific trends such as test scores, graduation rates and more.

“In the summer of 2018, our district developed and implemented deliberate and bold new initiatives to help our students graduate,” Richland 1 Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said in a statement. “As a community of educators, students, parents and supporters, we all can be proud of this achievement.”

Here is a breakdown of how Richland and Lexington school districts did:

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Richland 1 (Downtown Columbia, Lower Richland, St. Andrews)

The good news

The percentage of recent Richland 1 graduates (defined as those who graduated from the district the previous year) attending college is up to 64 percent, from 61 percent last year.

Graduation rate was above the state average for the first time since at least 2016. English learners’ progress was above the state average.

Chronic absenteeism was down and average teacher salary was up. Student-to-teacher ratio in core subjects improved.

Challenges

Students performed worse on standardized math, English, science and social studies tests than the state average.

A lower percentage of teachers returned compared to the previous year.

The percent of expenditures going toward instruction and teachers is down.

Richland 2 (Northeast Richland County)

Good news

Richland 2 students are performing better than the state average on standardized English and social studies tests.

English learners are making more progress than the state average.

Teacher salaries are up.

Richland 2’s graduation rate is 88.9 percent. That’s higher than last year, which was 87.2 percent, but it’s slightly lower than the 2017 graduation rate, which was 89.6.

Challenges

Fewer recent graduates of Richland 2 are enrolled in college. The previous year, 70.1 percent of recent graduates enrolled in college while this year 68.3 percent enrolled.

A smaller percentage of teachers are returning than the previous year.

A smaller percentage of expenditures are going toward teacher salaries.

The rate of chronic absenteeism is up.

Students performed worse than the state average on standardized science tests.

Lexington 1 (Town of Lexington, Gilbert, Pelion)

Good news

Lexington 1’s graduation rate is 89.6. That’s higher than last year — and it’s the highest in the Midlands — but it’s slightly lower than 2017, when the graduation rate was 90.2.

Students performed better than the state average in standardized math, English, science and social studies tests.

English learner’s progress was above the state average.

Challenges

Percent of overall expenditures going toward teacher salaries were down.

A slightly lower percentage of recent graduates are enrolled in college than last year. However, with 74.9 percent of recent grads enrolling in college, it’s still the second-highest in the Midlands.

Lexington 2 (Cayce-West Columbia)

Good news

More recent Lexington 2 graduates are enrolled in college than the previous year. Over two-thirds of those who graduated are enrolled in college.

A larger percentage of students are entering the gifted program.

Chronic absenteeism rate is down.

Challenges

Graduation rates have taken a nose dive in the last two years. In 2017, the graduation rate was 87.4 and in 2019 the graduation rate was 76.3. This is the lowest graduation rate in the Midlands.

Students performed worse on standardized math, English, science and social studies tests than the state average.

A smaller percentage of teachers are returning than the previous year.

Student-to-teacher ratio in core subject areas is up.

English learners’ progress is below the state average.

Lexington 3 (Batesburg-Leesville)

Good news

The percentage of recent graduates enrolled in college has increased from 68.9 percent last year to 71.2 percent.

Chronic absenteeism rate is down.

A higher percentage of teachers are returning compared to the previous year.

Challenges

Lexington 3’s graduation rate is 83.6 percent. That’s slightly more than last year, but far less than in 2017, when 89.9 percent of students graduated.

Students performed worse on standardized English, math, science and social studies tests than the state average.

English learners’ progress is below the state average.

Lexington 4 (Gaston-Swansea)

Good news

Lexington 4’s graduation rate has reached 79.9 percent, which is the second consecutive year it has improved.

The percentage of graduates enrolled in college spiked from 41.4 percent last year to 57.8 in 2019.

Student-to-teacher ratio is 16.1, which is lower than last year, when it was 20.4.

Challenges

Students performed worse on standardized English, math, science and social studies tests than the state average.

English learner’s progress was below the state average.

Only half of the teachers have an advanced degree, which is down from 54 percent last year.

Lexington-Richland 5 (Irmo, Dutch Fork, Chapin)

Good news

A higher percentage, 77.8, of Lexington-Richland 5 graduates are enrolled in college than any other school district in Richland or Lexington counties. This is actually a decrease from last year, when 79.9 percent of graduates attended college.

Students performed better on standardized English, math, science and social studies tests than the state average.

One in 10 seniors are eligible for the Palmetto Fellows scholarship, which is the highest lottery-funded scholarship S.C. awards.

Challenges

Graduation rate is 88.4 percent, which is down from over 90 percent the last two years.

English learners’ progress is slightly less than the state average.

A smaller percentage of teachers are returning to the district compared to last year.

Isabella Cueto contributed to reporting.

Lucas Daprile has been covering the University of South Carolina and higher education since March 2018. Before working for The State, he graduated from Ohio University and worked as an investigative reporter at TCPalm in Stuart, FL. There, where he won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his political and environmental coverage.
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