York, Clover schools get top marks on state report cards

jbecknell@enquirerherald.comNovember 8, 2013 

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    S.C. annual school district report card highlights

    School District Number of Students Absolute Rating Growth Rating Graduation Rate
    Rock Hill17,026GoodBelow Average79.4%
    York4,911ExcellentExcellent81.7%
    Clover6,463ExcellentExcellent87.1%
    Fort Mill11,003ExcellentGood91.6%
    Chester County5,322AverageAverage73.3%
    Lancaster County11,638ExcellentExcellent81.3%

— York and Clover schools received top ratings of “excellent” on the state’s report cards released Friday.

Both Western York County school districts received the highest absolute ratings of “excellent,” as well as “excellent” marks for growth.

The York and Clover district surpassed the state report card marks received by the two other York County school districts, Rock Hill and Fort Mill.

In addition, Clover tied for fourth place with Anderson 1 among the five highest performing school districts in the state. Fort Mill was the No. 1 highest performing district in the state.

Rock Hill received an absolute rating of “good” and a growth rating of “below average” on the reports, while Fort Mill received an “excellent” absolute rating and a growth rating of “good.”

“I hope this is an indication of the work we do for 180 days during the school year,” said Clover Superintendent Marc Sosne. “We work hard to get the results we get.”

Sosne said educators need to examine the data to find ways to continue improvement. “We have to find ways to continue to progress,” he said.

York Superintendent Vernon Prosser also was pleased. “The credit goes to what our teachers are doing in the classroom and our administrators and children, everybody working hard to achieve academic success.”

Prosser said York also has focused on addressing the needs of some historically lower-performing subgroups of students. “That’s one of our goals as a district, to do something that makes a difference there.”

Prosser also said data showed York compares favorably with other districts similar to it, with higher poverty rates. “We are proud of where we rank with other school districts like us,” he said.

Statewide, more of South Carolina’s public schools and districts received “excellent” ratings again this year, due to increases in standardized test scores and the high school graduation rate.

The state Department of Education’s data shows 50 of the state’s school 82 districts achieved the top two ratings of “excellent” or “good” on 2013 state report cards. That compares to 42 of 84 districts last year, before several districts in Marion County consolidated.

Elementary and middle schools’ state report card ratings are based on third- through eighth-graders’ performance on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, as well as attendance. High school ratings are based on students’ initial scores on the exit exam, results of end-of-course tests, and graduation rates.

The absolute rating of a district is calculated by a formula including Palmetto Assessments of State Standards scores, graduation rate and other variables.

Meanwhile, the growth rating compares the performance of students in the previous year on state assessments to the same type of students in the current year.

Statewide, the top tiers showed only slight improvement when broken down by the state’s 1,199 schools. Five additional schools received an “excellent,” raising that tally to 400, while two fewer schools – 232 – rated “good.”

Results show more schools climbing out from the bottom. Fourteen fewer schools received the worst rating of “at risk.” Still, 25 of the 47 schools in that category have been stuck there for the past three years.

The on-time graduation rate improved for the fourth consecutive year to 77.5 percent, up 2.6 percentage points. That’s the highest showing since the state began using the rate in calculating state report grades. It represents the percentage of students graduating with a regular diploma in four years.

While the improvements are encouraging, the state has a long way to go, said Neil Robinson, chairman of the Education Oversight Committee, which oversees the state’s education accountability system.

Even among teens who graduate, far too many lack the skills needed to find a job, and 41 percent of students going on to college must take remedial courses at South Carolina’s two-year schools, Robinson said.

The state’s five highest-performing districts are, in order, Fort Mill, Lexington/Richland 4 (Irmo and Chapin), Spartanburg 1 (Campobello/Inman/Landrum), and Clover and Anderson 1 (Williamston and Piedmont).

Rachel Southmayd with The Herald and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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