Despite lower grades, however, many schools continue to meet state expectations.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act Federal Accountability System replaced the use of Adequate Yearly Progress in the state last year after the state Department of Education’s flexibility request was approved.
Instead of designating schools as having “met” or “not met” AYP, the new system provides letter grades in which a grade of C or better indicates that the state expectations were met.
“Letter grades inform students, parents, schools, policy makers, the media, and the public how schools are performing in a clear and easily understood system,” state Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said in a news release. “Students have received letter grades on their report cards for decades; schools and school districts should be held to the same level of accountability and transparency.”
Under the Federal Accountability System, the state’s annual measurable objectives increase each year, so districts and schools had to have higher achievements to meet state expectations for the 2012-13 school year than last school year, the first year that letter grades was used.
Grades are based on composite index scores. Elementary and middle school scores are calculated using the school mean scores from the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards test in English/language arts, math, science and social studies and the percent of eligible pupils in the school tested in English/language arts and math. Attendance is not included in calculations.
High school scores are based on the school mean scores on the High School Assessment Program tests in English/language arts and math; the end-of-course tests in Biology I and U.S. History and Constitution; and the percent of eligible students in the school tested in English/language arts and math.
District scores are based on the previous year’s district graduation rate; district mean scores on HSAP and end-of-course tests; and the percent of eligible students in the district tested in English/language arts and math.
Aiken County Public Schools received a grade of C, down from last year’s B. Within the district, only 11 schools improved their rating, with seven receiving higher grades. Seven schools received an A.
Wagener-Salley High School saw the biggest improvement, with a composite index score increase of 32.4 points, moving its letter grade from an F to a D.
“We are proud of our schools that improved their overall scores,” Aiken County Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt said in a news release. “The bar was raised even higher this year, so it was a challenge for schools to maintain or improve their ratings. With strong academic programs and talented teachers, we know our students are learning important and critical skills to be successful after high school.”
Most of the county’s schools saw a decline in composite index scores, but the largest declines were at Midland Valley Preparatory School and Mossy Creek Elementary School. Midland Valley Preparatory decreased 37.3 points in its composite index score, taking its grade from a B to an F. Mossy Creek’s composite index score decreased 37 points and its grade went from an A to an F.
Edgefield County School District also declined in its grade from a B to a C this year.
Three of its schools increased their ratings and one increased its letter grade. Johnston Elementary School had the biggest improvement in the district with a composite index score increase of 32.5 points, moving its letter grade from an F to a D.
Merriwether Elementary School had the largest decline in its composite index score – 23.7 points – which took its grade from an A to a C.
Visit ed.sc.gov/data/esea/2013/ to view each district’s and school’s letter grades.