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Students honored for perfect state test scores

Also, class of ’17 had highest grad rate ever

Posted: October 9, 2017 4:58 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Kershaw County school board members recognize seven students during the board’s Oct. 3 meeting for making perfect scores on portions of the S.C. READY test during the previous school year. Earning perfect S.C. READY test scores were (front row, from left) Turner Goff, Lugoff-Elgin Middle; Riley Gibson, North Central Middle; Farrell Shoemake, Doby’s Mill Elementary; Emory Gunter, Camden Elementary; Emilee Burgess, Doby’s Mill Elementary; Griffin Proctor, Lugoff Elementary; and Sara McCaskill, Lugoff-Elgin Middle. They were congratulated by (back row, from left) Chairman Ron Blackmon and trustees Matt Irick, Dr. James Smith and Derrick Proctor.

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During its Oct. 3 meeting, the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees recognized 12 students who earned perfect scores on standardized tests during the 2016-2017 school year. Five students earned the maximum score on the S.C. PASS, a statewide assessment for students in 4th, 6th and 8th grades in science, and 5th and 7th grades in social studies.

PASS test items measure students performance on S.C. Academic Standards, The test items are aligned to the standards for each subject and grade level. Standards outline what schools are expected to teach and what students are expected to learn.

The board recognized the following students for perfect S.C. PASS scores: Mackey Potteiger, Lugoff Elementary School (now at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School); Brook Clark, Blaney Elementary School; Katherine Moore, Doby’s Mill Elementary School ([DMES] now at Leslie M. Stover Middle School [LSMS]); John May, DMES (not at LSMS); and Andrew Langmo, LSMS.

Mackey earned his perfect score in social studies while the other four students earned their perfect scores in science.

The remaining seven students earned perfect scores on the S.C. READY test, administered in the spring.

S.C. READY is a statewide assessment that includes tests in English language arts and mathematics. It is administered to all students in 3rd through 8th grades. Items on S.C. READY are aligned with the S.C. College- and Career-Ready Standards. All seven students earned maximum scores on the math section of the test.

The board recognized: Turner Goff, Wateree Elementary School (now at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School [L-EMS]); Riley Gibson, Mt. Pisgah Elementary School (now at North Central Middle School); Farrell Shoemake, DMES; Emory Gunter, Camden Elementary School; Emilee Burgess, DMES; Griffin Proctor, Lugoff Elementary School; and Sara McCaskill, L-EMS.

All-time graduation rate

The distinction of having the highest graduation rate in Kershaw County School District (KCSD) history goes to the Class of 2017. According to KCSD Assessment Director Lavoy Carter, the district’s four-year graduation rate rose from 91.3 percent in 2016 to 92.2 percent in 2017. The rate jumps to 94.4 percent when including those students who graduate in five years.

“It’s obvious that the work we’ve done to focus on our graduation rate has paid off,” KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said. “It used to be that only high schools were judged on graduation rates, but this is really the result of a strong academic program that starts in elementary school and continues throughout our students’ school careers.”

Carter said the calculations include students who receive GEDs (general equivalency diplomas), but excludes non-diploma track special education students. Four years ago, he said, graduation rates for four- and five-year time periods were 89 and 89.8 percent, respectively. The number of district adult education students earning GEDs was also up to an all-time high of 61, up from only 34 two years ago.

Carter told trustees that 59 percent of the class of 2017 reported entering college or other continuing education programs while 5 percent joined the military. Another 29 percent entered the workforce directly from high school.

Ten years ago, Morgan said, graduation rates were only around 73 or 74 percent.

Among the efforts Morgan said have gone into raising the district’s graduation rate are a focus on literacy, proactive discipline and “wrap-around” services such those that focus on mental and physical health, the Boys & Girls Club’s (including the Jackson Teen Center), summer programs and better communication and use of technology with parents.

“The numbers come from things we’ve done for K-12 -- in school and after school,” Morgan said.

In other business Oct. 3:

• Morgan discussed the S.C. Education Oversight Committee’s (EOC) finalized plan to institute a new school accountability system that will merge federal and state school “report cards.” It will eliminate district rankings. Morgan, who reported on the proposal earlier this year, said he thought merging the two was a good idea in principle, but felt that stakeholder input had been ignored. He expressed concerns with the EOC’s plan to rate schools on a curve, which would always 30 percent of schools being rated “below average” or “unsatisfactory” regardless of their improvement. Morgan said the plan also includes a student assessment module that has yet to be vetted and that the rankings include comparisons to “cut scores” based on the mastery of subjects, rather than a student’s proficiency. He said the new system should be put in place next fall, based on data from the current school year.

• KCSD Director of Operations Billy Smith provided another update on referenda-related school construction projects. Smith said things are still on track for groundbreaking of the new Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC) to take place in December and that the district and other stakeholders are working now on water and sewer plans that will include the future expansion of Central Carolina Technical College at the site. Concrete and/or foundations have been poured at the new Camden and Lugoff elementary school sites and for an expansion at North Central Middle School. Smith also said that crews have dug the pit for an elevator at the new Camden Elementary School.

• Morgan announced that Lugoff Elementary School will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 25.

• Morgan said KCSD Director of Communications Mary Anne Byrd has started working with the district’s calendar committee and will try to create an option to have the first semester of the school year end in time for the December 2018 winter break.

• Trustees met behind closed doors to discuss employment and legal matters. Following the closed-door session, trustees unanimously voted to accept the administration’s recommendations on the undisclosed employment matters. They also unanimously voted to enter into a sublease agreement and limited warranty deed with the county for the property where the district plans to build the new ATEC. Kershaw County Council approved the same measure during its Sept. 26 meeting.


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