In the article “S.C. schools show improvement on state report cards,” Neil Robinson, S.C. Education Oversight Committee chairman, states that “educators and families need clear, consistent messages about the performance of schools and students, and the system should focus solely on every student having the knowledge, opportunity and skills to be college-ready, career-ready and life-ready for the 21st century.
As an educator and a parent, I give that statement a “Amen!” Along with my continued support of the statement, as a high school coordinator of testing and data analysis, I understand the intricate and weighty accountability systems that are presently in place in South Carolina to measure schools as they progress toward these goals. Specifically, as Northwestern High School’s testing and data analysis coordinator, I would like to give the Rock Hill community a very clear understanding of Northwestern’s achievement within South Carolina’s state accountability system.
First, an understanding of the basis of high school report card ratings is necessary.
1. High schools are rated based on passage of all parts of the High School Assessment Program (HSAP) exit exam the first time a student takes the test.
2. High schools are held accountable for longitudinal HSAP passage, which is measured yearly and is based on the passage of the test by the fourth year of high school.
3. High schools are measured by fourth-year graduation rate. This rating is based on the percentage of all students enrolled on the 45th day of school of their first enrollment year as a ninth-grader who earn a standard high school diploma by the end of their fourth year of high school. This is adjusted for documented transfers to and from other state diploma granting programs.
4. Just a few years ago, the state added the category of fifth-year graduation rate. This figure represents an update to the four-year graduation rate of the students in the previous year’s graduating class.
5. The passage rate of End of Course Tests (EOCs) for Algebra 1/Math for theTechnologies 2, English 1, Biology 1/Applied Biology 2, and U.S. History and the Constitution are part of the yearly high school rating. It is important to note that the high school passage rates of English I and Algebra I do not include the figures for those high school students who took the corresponding EOCs as part of the advanced middle school program.
Inserting the data from each of these categories into established indexes and formulas, each high school receives an absolute rating, based on the data from each category, and an improvement rating, based on the data from the categories as compared to the prior year. I am proud to report that Northwestern received an excellent for both the absolute and growth rating categories. Congratulations, Northwestern!
Elizabeth B. Mixon is the testing coordinator for Rock Hill’s Northwestern High School.