State gives district an average grade

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By Jesef Williams

The Lancaster County School District received an "average" rating on its 2007 state-issued report card, the same ratings it got in 2006.

The state Department of Education released the report cards earlier this month.

Schools and districts are assessed by two ratings on the report cards – absolute and improvement.

Absolute ratings are based on overall student performance on standardized tests, and improvement ratings look at individual student test scores from one year to the next and the number of students who have made such gains.

Schools receive one of the following ratings for each of the two categories: Excellent, good, average, below average and unsatisfactory.

The state's mathematical rating system raises the bar for all schools each year. Ratings are set by the Education Oversight Committee, which guides implementation of the Education Accountability Act.

Elementary school ratings are based on Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test scores for third- through fifth-graders. Middle school ratings are based on PACT scores for all students.

High school ratings are based on the graduation rate, the percentage of 10th graders who pass both sections of the exit exam on the first try, the percent of students who pass the exit exam by the time they graduate, and the percentage of students eligible for the LIFE scholarship.

Ten out of 19 Lancaster County schools scored average or better on the report card; 11 did so in 2006. (For report card purposes, Indian Land Elementary and Indian Land Middle are counted as separate schools.)

Indian Land High School is the only school in the district to receive an excellent rating this year. Last year, the school received a good rating. It was one of two district schools to increase its rating from last year.

Buford High went from a below-average rating to a good rating.

Two other schools – Discovery Schools and McDonald Green Elementary School – also received a rating of good this year.

"We are excited to report that our district is on target to meet 2010 goals and are proud of all the hard work by staff and students in working toward our goals," said Lydia Quinn, the school district's director of planning and accountability. "Thanks also go to our parents for their continued support and partnership as we work together to provide the best education possible for our students."

State results

Sixty percent of South Carolina's public schools received an absolute rating of excellent, good or average – which is down from 65 percent in 2006.

The percentage of schools with the lowest absolute rating of unsatisfactory increased from 12 to 14 percent.

"Our accountability system's increasing performance targets make good ratings harder to achieve," state Superintendent of Education Dr. Jim Rex said. "Schools have to improve significantly each year or see their report card ratings decline. This year's relatively flat PACT scores played a huge role in these results."

Contact Jesef Williams

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