FROM THE PAPER
Waccamaw Middle School
Waccamaw High School
No change in Waccamaw school report
Georgetown County School District kept its "average" report card rating for the third consecutive year.
The ratings that shows how quickly the district's performance is improving, called growth ratings, remained at "below average," the same as 2007.
Celeste Pringle, assistant superintendant for curriculum and instruction said: "we are proud of our growth, but we continue to strive to make gains in all of the areas on our report cards."
The progress Pringle described is evident in the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test scores from 2008. Middle and elementary school students who took the test scored higher in social studies, science, math and English than they did in 2007. The district's dropout rate also fell from 3.5 percent to 3.3 percent.
In the Pawleys Island area, schools' absolute scores, those that show the school's performance based on student success, didn't deviate from their 2007 ratings. Waccamaw High School received an "excellent" score, Waccamaw Middle School received an "average," and Waccamaw Elementary School earned a "good."
As South Carolina standards rise to meet a 2010 goal of having all schools rank in the top 50 percent nationally, the definition of the rating terms, and what schools must do to meet the ratings, changes.
An example of those changing requirements can be found in the schools' and the district's Adequate Yearly Progress ratings. These ratings are based on goals the district and schools set for numbers that can change over time like test scores, or for high schools, graduation rates. As the state moves its standards for student test scores higher each year, schools and districts are having a harder time reaching them.
As a result, this year, like the past three years, the Georgetown County School District did not meet AYP. It reached 23 out of 29 goals and now must take "corrective action" to get schools and students back on track to meeting the 2010 performance goal.
Last fall, the state Department of Education announced it would start using the Palmetto Achievement State Standards test for students in grades three through eight. The test will replace PACT.
With simpler scoring methods, district officials hope more students will meet standards and help schools meet their AYP goals next year.
For high school students who will not take PASS, the main dispute is graduation rates, a number that prevented Waccamaw High from meeting its AYP goal.
While WHS principal David Hammel said these annual report cards keep parents and community members informed about schools' weaknesses and strengths, he questioned their validity since his school has waited since November for the state to correct its graduation rate calculations. After the state corrected math mistakes, AYP results were delayed again when the district protested the school's graduation rate. Even after recalculations that put the school's 2008 graduation rate at 85 percent, the school did not meet the 88.3 percent requirement, and as a result, did not meet its AYP goals.
Sarah L. Smith / Coastal Observer