Lowcountry schools' state grades fall short
Some improve, but most hold steady or fall
By Diette Courrégé & Mindy B. Hagen
The Post and Courier
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Lowcountry schools' report card ratings tumbled for the third
consecutive year, evidence that most are failing to keep up with the
state's ever-increasing requirements for progress. Roughly 95
percent of local schools were rated either the same as or worse than
last year, which mirrored the statewide trend, according to state
results released today. Sixty-eight percent of state schools kept the
same rating as last year, while about one-fourth received lower ones.
Report cards assign an absolute rating and an improvement rating to
each school, ranging from excellent to unsatisfactory, based mostly on
students' test scores. State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex
said this year's relatively flat scores on the state Palmetto
Achievement Challenge Test played a big role in the report card
ratings, as did the increasing poverty levels of schools.
A complicated formula is used to determine ratings for schools. High
schools receive points based on their graduation rates and exit exams
and end-of-course passage rates. Elementary and middle schools get
points based on their PACT scores. A school's score determines the
rating it gets. For example, schools that score between 3.0 and 3.3
would receive an average rating. The minimum score required for each rating increases by one-tenth of a point every year.
A school that scored 2.5 last year would have been below average, but
the same score would result in an unsatisfactory rating this year. The
higher standard affected about 6 percent of schools statewide this
In Charleston, slightly more than half of the schools got better
numerical scores this year, but that progress wasn't enough to affect
the ratings. The number of excellent-rated schools fell from 20 to 15
while the number of unsatisfactory-rated schools rose by seven to 25.
Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley said she changed the way
schools were organized this year primarily because she expected these
report card results. The new system, which has schools of similar grade
levels grouped together, will enable schools to share ideas.
McGinley highlighted the scores of 12 unsatisfactory-rated schools that
improved, as well as the district's overall improvement rating, which
moved up two levels to average. "Even though we didn't go up as
rapidly as we wanted to, I think, given how the rest of the state did,
we feel pretty positive," she said.
Her biggest concern will be focusing on the new schools rated unsatisfactory. West Ashley High
is one of them. New Principal Mary Runyon said the school's
demographics have been changing. The roughly 2,000-student school
includes 263 students from outside its attendance zone, and those
students often come with academic challenges, Runyon said.
Last summer, the school helped 71 students who had failed a class
necessary for graduation earn the required credit, Runyon said.
Guidance counselors are calling students who have failed three or more
subjects, and lower level English and math class sizes have been
reduced from 30 to 18, Runyon said.
[Article continues to cover schools in other districts...]
2007 Report Cards for all D10 schools are available from the State Department of Education.
Return .... to CCSD District #10