With the significant improvement in student test scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards exam, known as PASS. South Carolina primary, elementary and middle schools generally posted better ratings in annual report cards released Friday by the State Department of Education.
South Carolina Education Oversight Committee Executive Director Jo Anne Anderson says while there is significant room for improvement, the report shows that the state’s schools overall are pushing forward in a positive direction.
202 schools were rated excellent this year compared to 163 schools in 2009. 165 schools were rated good, compared to 149 in 2009. 424 schools rated average. The percentage of schools rated below average or at-risk dropped from 21 to 18 percent. The number of schools rated below average dropped from 148 to 125. The number of schools rated at-risk fell from 62 to 51. Anderson says there are a number of reasons why a significant number of schools remain below average or at-risk, but the pervasive issue throughout the state continues to be the level of poverty.
Anderson says the test results point out a number of examples that improvement and achievement of students can still be obtained despite high concentrations of poverty.
State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex says it is important to note that the improvement in student performance was gained in the midst of significant budget cuts and that is a testament to the work and effort of teachers, administrators and students. However, Rex says the results also show that there remains a significant achievement gap among White, African American, and Hispanic students as well as students in poverty.
Rex says integrating students of low achievement into class settings with students of good to excellent achievement is one method being used in an effort to close the achievement gap. However, personalized attention and other innovative methods may ultimately hold the key to closing that gap.
High school and district report card ratings will be released in January.