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Local AYP performance better than state results

Posted: August 5, 2011 2:18 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County elementary and middle schools outperformed the state on Adequate Yearly Performance (AYP) results released recently, although local education leaders say the federal system has been criticized for its “all or nothing” ratings and seems to contradict local positive results released on PASS, the state’s accountability test for grades 3-8. 

 Thirty-six percent of local elementary and middle schools met all of their federal goals as compared to only 27 percent statewide on data released by the S.C. Department of Education in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

 Baron DeKalb Elementary, Lugoff Elementary, Mt. Pisgah Elementary and Pine Tree Hill Elementary met all of their target goals while seven other elementary and middle schools -- Bethune Elementary, Blaney Elementary, Camden Elementary, Doby’s Mill Elementary, Midway Elementary, North Central Middle and Wateree Elementary -- fell short of making AYP by one or two targets. 

 Two Kershaw County schools -- Lugoff Elementary and Mt. Pisgah Elementary -- have made AYP all nine years.

 Only 13 of 179 high schools in the state met AYP; none of the local high schools did. Kershaw County School District met 27 of its 29 target goals.

 “While I fully support the goals of No Child Left Behind, it has always amazed me that a grade of 93 percent is considered failing under this law,” said Kershaw County School District Superintendent Frank Morgan. “It’s especially puzzling when you consider the district’s continued improvement on PASS scores, graduation rates and other areas. I hope at some point, Congress decides to re-examine this law and make it more relevant to the real world.”

 State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais described the federal No Child Left Behind school accountability system as “broken.”

 “For the federal government to label a school as ‘failing’ when it meets or exceeds every goal except one defies common sense,” Zais said. “It’s time for Washington to end top-down directives and acknowledge its limited role in setting education policy.”

 NCLB is an “all-or-nothing” rating system in which schools must make all of their targets in order to make AYP. The number of targets that Kershaw County schools must meet ranges from five to 21; falling short on even one means that a school will not meet AYP.

 Each state sets its own definition for academic proficiency under NCLB. In order to meet AYP this year, the number of South Carolina elementary and middle students who had to be proficient on math and English Language Arts tests in order to meet federal goals jumped from about 58 percent to nearly 80 percent. 

In order to make AYP, high schools must have had 71.3 percent of their students proficient in English Language Arts and 70 percent proficient in math.

 South Carolina’s targets for AYP, like those of other states, are rising quickly in order to meet NCLB’s requirement that all students score “proficient” on state math and English Language Arts tests by 2014.  (A score of “Met” on South Carolina’s PASS tests meets the federal standard for “Proficient.”)

(The Kershaw County School District provided this information.)


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