Fewer elementary and middle schools than last year in York and Clover met federal student achievement goals, according to ratings released Wednesday.
But no schools face penalties as a result.
The ratings fall under the government's No Child Left Behind Act, which requires schools to show that all kinds of students are performing proficiently.
Schools that continuously fail to make so-called adequate yearly progress, or AYP, may face penalties. Schools make AYP only if they reach all of their goals.
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In South Carolina, AYP comes from student scores on the state's PACT test. The state has delayed high school results, possibly until next week due to "computation errors," education officials said.
Five of Clover's schools made AYP so far, compared with six last year. In York, Hickory Grove-Sharon Elementary was the only one of the district's elementary and middle schools to make the grade, compared with three that did so last year.
Test-score targets statewide are higher this year. They rise every three years because the government wants all students to perform on grade level by 2014.
Educators across the country have called the goals unreasonable. "The problem is the pass/fail system," said Clover schools Superintendent Marc Sosne. "There isn't a way to acknowledge progress. I think No Child Left Behind doesn't give people that hope."
Clover's Kinard Elementary, for example, hit 12 of 13 targets. Not enough students on free and reduced-price lunch scored proficient in English and language arts, so Kinard didn't make AYP.
That can be demoralizing for teachers, Sosne said.
But he said the results are useful."We're analyzing the data," Sosne said, "to say ... where have we dropped the ball? What can we do better?"
For many, the ratings can be confusing. The government's requirements are complicated and very detailed.
Schools must report state test results for all racial groups, students with disabilities, students with limited proficiency in English and those who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. If a school has fewer than 40 students in a group, results are not tallied.
Schools that miss academic goals for any group -- or that fail to test at least 95 percent of students in any eligible group -- do not meet the federal standard.
All types of students must have acceptable pass rates for a school to succeed. To see results, go to http://ed.sc.gov