In the latest state report cards released Friday, South Carolina schools and districts showed improvements across the board. Graduation rates, school and district ratings, end-of-course exams, and High School Assessment Program scores were all up.
"I know how hard teachers work, and really how hard parents work to assist their children with their school," said Dr. Mick Zais, state superintendent of education.
In the 2010-11 school year, the state's on-time high school graduation rate was 73.6 percent. Last year that went up to 77.5 percent.
More school districts are now rated "excellent" or "good", and fewer are rated "below average" or "at risk."
Excellent 6 30
Good 12 20
Average 48 24
Below avg 14 6
At risk 6 2
Individual schools also say improvements in their ratings. You can check your local school's rating by clicking here.
Since there are improvements in many different areas, it would be impossible to point to one reason or program to explain them. But Dr. Zais thinks one reason is that schools are getting more detailed information from the federal report cards about how specific students and groups of students are doing.
"Our school leaders are using the very specific feedback from our federal report cards to target instruction and target improvement areas," he says.
So, for example, if a principal saw that students had improved in science but not in math, he could focus on getting additional training or materials for the school's math teachers. Or if scores showed boys were doing worse in English, or girls in science, resources could be added in those areas.
While the scores all show improvement, there's still plenty of room for more. Dr. Zais says, "One of the things we're trying to do is develop not only a focus in our school rooms on reading, but also a program that would help those struggling readers at end of third grade."
The state is also in the second year of a pilot program to evaluate teachers, to find which ones are the most successful, and why, and which ones need additional training or assistance.
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