Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2018

New South Carolina School Report Cards Confirm GCS is Outperforming the State

86% of Schools in GCS Meet or Exceed Profile of the SC Graduate

The South Carolina Department of Education (SDE) released report cards today that rate each school in the state as Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, or Unsatisfactory. In Greenville County Schools (GCS), 72 of 85 schools earned ratings of Average, Good, or Excellent, which means they meet or exceed the criteria to ensure all students meet the Profile of the SC Graduate. Under the new system school districts continue to receive a report card, but are no longer rated.  The last rating for GCS was excellent.

Greenville County Schools

South Carolina Schools

85 Schools

1,235 Schools

18 Excellent (21%)

186 Excellent (15%)

25 Good (29%)

252 Good (20%)

30 Average (35%)

433 Average (35%)

7 Below Average (8%)

227 Below Average (18%)

5 Unsatisfactory (6%)

110 Unsatisfactory (9%)

Under the new system multiple data points, test scores, and surveys contribute to each school’s rating. The report cards attempt to measure a school’s academic achievement, student progress, college and career readiness, and school climate. The reports also include English Learners’ Progress, Student Safety, and Financial information. High School reports factor in graduation rates, though the formula for determining the graduation rate has changed slightly from past years.

Despite the strong showing by his schools, Superintendent Burke Royster has concerns with the new report card system.  “Report cards are supposed to provide accurate information to our families and communities.  The calculations behind these report card factors have required hours of explanation, even to the educators who work daily with test scores and other statistical data.  Additionally, we have serious concerns about the accuracy of some of the report card data, particularly those related to school safety and school quality.  Our state has fallen far short in its efforts to provide our public with an easily understood, sensible, and transparent ratings system.”

The release of the 2018 report cards marks the first time since 2014 that schools received an accountability rating from the state.  A new South Carolina law requires schools to be graded numerically from 1-100. As shown below, the new grading scale does not match a traditional grading scale with which parents are familiar, nor is it consistent between school levels.

Rating Scale

Elementary

Middle

High

Excellent

61-100

56-100

67-100

Good

53-60

48-55

60-66

Average

42-52

36-47

51-59

Below Average

34-41

29-35

40-50

Unsatisfactory

0-33

0-28

0-39

The reason for the inconsistencies between school level scores is related to the Education Oversight Committee’s decision that state-wide school ratings must align to 2015 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test scores. In order to accomplish that, the system was developed to result in about 15 percent of South Carolina schools being labeled as “Excellent,” 20 percent as Good,” 35 percent as “Average,” 20 percent as “Below Average,” and 10 percent as “Unsatisfactory.” NAEP tests students in every state in fourth grade and eighth grade in math, reading, science, and writing.

“The requirement that school ratings in South Carolina ‘match’ the performance of SC students on the NAEP exams is inherently flawed because it requires a certain number of schools in each ratings category,” said Royster. “Although this decision ties back to a federal requirement, the EOC created a system of limitations so a pre-determined number of our schools fall under each category, which is not specifically required by the federal government. If the desire is to raise the quality of South Carolina schools, our state should set standard thresholds to give schools clear, measureable goals.”

Overall, schools in GCS outperformed the state.  Across South Carolina, 15% of schools earned Excellent, while 21% of GCS schools achieved the top rating.  Likewise, 27% of all state schools were rated as Below Average or Unsatisfactory, while 14% of schools in GCS fell into these two categories. Seven schools in the district were rated as Below Average under the new system, which the report card defines as “in jeopardy of not meeting the criteria to ensure all students meet the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.”  Five schools scored unsatisfactory.  Each of these had already been identified by the district to receive intensive interventions this year.  These interventions include coaching for teachers and administrators, on-site assistance by content specialists, additional professional development opportunities for teachers, and help with lesson planning and the identification of curriculum resources.

“We are fully committed to improving the performance of all our schools,” said Superintendent Royster.  “Each year our instructional leadership team reviews test results, retention rates, survey data, and other data points to identify schools most in need of additional support.  Some schools need extra resources to meet the needs of their communities.  With the support of our Board of Trustees, we put those resources where they are most needed.”

Royster also expressed concern with some of the inconsistencies between the new rating system and other established measures.  “We are concerned with any report card system that materially conflicts with other established standards of excellence,” he said. “For example, Greenville High School is highly ranked by U.S. News and World report, but it is rated as Average under this system.  Skyland Elementary and Bethel Elementary, both rated as Average under this system, are National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence.  Additionally, some of our most desirable schools, in terms of parent choice, do not have high ratings under this system.  It is our belief that the people of Greenville County have a better understanding of the quality of our schools than does this new report card system.”

The new report cards can be reviewed on the State Department of Education’s website (screportcards.com).  Additionally, all schools in GCS are posting a link to their individual report card on the school’s website.

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