State report cards: Rock Hill schools’ growth ‘below average’

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comNovember 8, 2013 

FILE. The first day of school in Rock Hill at Mount Holly Elementary School.


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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%
    Fort Mill11,003ExcellentGood91.6%
    Chester County5,322AverageAverage73.3%
    Lancaster County11,638ExcellentExcellent81.3%

The Rock Hill school district did not perform as well as other York County school districts on the state’s annual report cards, released to the public today.

Rock Hill schools’ absolute rating was “Good” and its growth rating was “Below Average.”

The three other York County school districts received “Excellent” absolute ratings and either “Good” or “Excellent” growth ratings.

Lancaster County schools got an absolute and growth rating of “Excellent,” while Chester County schools received “Average” on both ratings.

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, released today, shows 50 of the state’s 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. 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.

“That means the percentage of kids that made the state’s target for growth was lower this year than the year before,” Harriet Jaworowski, Rock Hill’s associate superintendent of instruction, said of the district’s “Below Average” growth rating.

There’s no one factor that contributes to a decline in growth rating, Jaworowski said. But some things, like the number of students from poor households, can have an impact. Rock Hill schools did see the number of students living in poverty increase last year.

“Poverty has an impact but that’s not an excuse,” she said, noting that the ratings from school to school in the district vary greatly.

No single elementary, middle or high school received an absolute rating below average, although several did receive growth ratings of “Below Average” or “At-Risk.”

The district uses the information on these report cards as “one piece of data in a continuous improvement process,” Jaworowski said.

She has never heard from parents who are concerned with the report card results, she said, because parents are concerned “on a different level.”

“What parents care about most is their child is happy and safe and learning at school,” she said. “If that’s true, they really don’t care what those ratings are.”

Slight improvement statewide

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).

Only two districts had an overall performance so low that the entire district was rated “at risk.” Those were Jasper County and the statewide public charter school district, which includes the state’s online charter schools.

The Associated Press contributed

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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