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Aiken, Edgefield schools appear to be slipping on state report cards

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 2:46 AM
Last updated 2:58 AM
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The Aiken and Edgefield county school systems appear to be slipping on their state report card ratings, according to data released today by the South Carolina Department of Education.

The districts maintained an “average” absolute rating based largely on how students fared on state tests in the 2010-11 school year, but both also saw their growth rating slip from “excellent” in 2010 to “below average” in 2011. The growth rating is mainly a comparison of students’ results on state tests from year to year.

Schools had a mixed bag of results. In Aiken County, five of the 44 schools had an absolute rating of excellent, which was one more than in 2010.

On the other hand, three schools had the lowest absolute rating, “at-risk,” compared with only one the previous year.

In Edgefield County, only Fox Creek High had an absolute rating of excellent in 2010 and 2011. None of the eight Edgefield County schools was at-risk.

Aiken County saw only five schools with a growth rating of excellent, down from eight the previous year. No Edgefield County schools had a growth rating of excellent in 2011. Fox Creek did in 2010.

Four Aiken County schools had a growth rating of at-risk, compared with three in 2010. No Edgefield County schools had a growth rating of at-risk.

Aiken County is in line with the statewide trend, which saw the number of schools with an absolute rating of excellent increase, as well as the number of schools with an absolute rating of at-risk.

“The state report card is a good overall measure of a school’s effectiveness because it looks at many different factors,” Aiken County school Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt said. “We are pleased to see that many of our schools’ ratings are improving or continue to be high, but the reports also identify some schools and areas where we need to refocus our efforts to bring our students’ achievement up to standard.”

In terms of four-year high school graduation rates, the state stopped two consecutive years of declines with a 1.5 percentage-point increase to 73.6 percent of the Class of 2011 graduating on time. But that is still a far cry from the state’s high-water mark in the past 10 years, 78 percent for the Class of 2003.

“Students, parents and teachers deserve all the credit for the gains made in graduation rates,” state Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said in a statement. “As the state’s high school graduation rate improves, the prospects for long-term economic growth and job creation increase.”

On the other hand, he said, “The bottom line for students, parents, teachers and taxpayers is that slightly more than one out of every four students fails to graduate on time. We can do much better as a state, and past experience proves we can.”

Locally, Strom Thurmond High had the highest graduation rate for the Class of 2011, at 80.3 percent, an 8.3 percentage-point increase from 2010.

Ridge Spring-Monetta High had the lowest graduation rate, 61.3 percent, which was 4.3 percentage points lower than in 2010.

LOCAL RESULTS

AIKEN COUNTY: AVERAGE

Absolute rating           Number of schools

Excellent                                         5

Good                                                5

Average                                         23

Below Average                               6

At-Risk                                            3


EDGEFIELD COUNTY: AVERAGE

Absolute rating           Number of schools

Excellent                                         1

Good                                                1

Average                                          5

Below Average                               1

At-Risk                                           0


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