Clover and Lewisville high schools received the highest possible ratings on South Carolina's annual public school report cards released today.
The report cards include a wealth of information about each school and district, including test scores, federal ratings and answers from teacher, parent and student surveys. Graduation rates are included for high schools.
The report cards, available online, also rate schools based on standardized test scores. Schools are judged on two factors: how students performed on tests overall, and how well students improved from the prior year.
Here's a look at local highlights from this year's report cards.
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High school 'excellence'
Of the 14 high schools in York, Chester and Lancaster counties, only Clover and Lewisville received "excellent" ratings in both test score categories.
Schools get one of five labels: Excellent, good, average, below average or at-risk.
Clover High Principal Mark Hopkins, who took the job last year, credited "our teachers, our students and our parents, because they're the ones in the trenches."
He said the school's culture contributes to its success.
"Everybody's got to believe instructional time is sacred," Hopkins said. Teachers "make the most of every minute of instructional time. And we try not to overburden them with bureaucratic details."
Lewisville High puts a premium on making students feel welcome, Principal James Knox said.
"It's very important, if you're going to have success in a school, that the kids know the teachers and the teachers know the kids," he said. "We have tried to make sure that the majority of our adults know virtually every kid in this building.
"We set high expectations for our kids," he said. "We provide extra support. ... We try our best to communicate with the home and the community.
"You constantly have to look at what you're doing."
On the rise
Rock Hill High's graduation rate jumped to 73.3 percent from 67.9 percent last year. It was the biggest graduation rate gain in York County.
Dutchman Creek Middle in Rock Hill saw its rating rise from "good" in both categories last year to "excellent."
Indian Land Middle's improvement rating jumped from "below average" in 2008 to "excellent," indicating that students are improving significantly year over year.
Every one of Fort Mill's elementary and middle schools maintained an "excellent" rating in both categories for a second straight year. (Fort Mill's fourth middle school, Banks Trail Middle, just opened and doesn't have a report card.)
In Rock Hill, India Hook Elementary was "excellent" in both categories for a second straight year.
These Clover schools did the same: Crowders Creek, Griggs Road, Bethany and Bethel elementaries and Oakridge Middle.
See for yourself
The report cards are intended to keep parents in the loop and spotlight both high and low performers. But the report cards don't paint a complete picture. For instance, they don't account for achievement gaps between student groups.
To view detailed report card data for any South Carolina school or district, visit: ed.sc.gov/data/report-cards/2011.