11 schools get same report card rating as in ’09

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By Jesef Williams

Most elementary and middle schools in the Lancaster County School District received the same grade on their state-issued report card in 2010 that they did a year ago.
The state Department of Education released the 2010 report cards last week.
Schools and districts are assessed by two ratings on the report cards – absolute and growth.
Absolute ratings are based on overall student performance on standardized tests. Growth ratings look at individual student test scores from one year to the next and the number of students who have made such gains.
Schools and districts receive one of the following ratings for each of the two categories – excellent, good, average, below average and at risk.  
Absolute ratings
Discovery School, the district’s only charter school, was the only school in the district to receive an absolute rating of excellent for 2010.
Indian Land Elementary, McDonald Green Elementary, North Elementary and Indian Land Middle schools each received a rating of good.
Linda Blackwell, principal at North Elementary, attributes the school’s success to a number of factors, including the strength of its parent-teacher association and school-improvement council.
“We value the family relationships we have and know that because of our collective efforts, our world here at North continues to be a great place to learn,” Blackwell said.
Buford Elementary, Erwin Elementary, Heath Springs Elementary, Kershaw Elementary, A.R. Rucker Middle, Andrew Jackson Middle and South Middle schools each received an absolute ratings of average.
Brooklyn Springs Elementary and Clinton Elementary schools received a rating of below average.
Growth ratings
On the growth ratings, Discovery School got an excellent.
Indian Land Elementary, McDonald Green Elementary, A.R. Rucker Middle and Indian Land Middle each received a rating of good, and Clinton Elementary got a below average.
All of the other district schools received a rating of average.
A.R. Rucker Middle Principal Phillip Mickles said teachers, administrators, counselors and nurses have worked together to foster a successful learning environment at his school – the only district middle school to improve its growth rating this year.
“Our faculty and staff works collaboratively by focusing on building a learning community that has high expectations for all students,” Mickles said. “This accomplishment reflects the hard work of our students, parents, teachers and community.”
High school and district report card ratings will be released in January.
The federal government now requires states to calculate high school graduation rates in a way that requires schools to submit documentation differently on individual students, and state education officials said that doing this for the first time is requiring additional staff time at the state and local levels.
State results
Across South Carolina, 82 percent of public primary, elementary and middle schools had an absolute rating of excellent, good or average – up from 78 percent in 2009.
More than twice as many primary, elementary and middle schools received growth ratings of excellent for 2010 – 238 schools compared to 91 in 2009.  
Dr. Jim Rex, the state’s superintendent of education, said the higher ratings are a result of higher scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) test.
“Student performance was up for most subjects in most grades,” Rex said. “Despite economic turmoil and state budget cuts, schools have kept their focus on teaching and learning. And that’s cause for optimism.”  

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152