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Schools: Principals pleased on eve of release of state report cards

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Waccamaw Elementary, Waccamaw Intermediate and Waccamaw Middle schools all received “excellent” overall ratings and “excellent” improvement ratings on their state report cards, the Georgetown County School District announced Wednesday.

The three schools had received “excellent” overall ratings on their 2009 report cards, but grades for improvement varied. Waccamaw Intermediate and Waccamaw Middle were rated as “good.” Waccamaw Elementary was labeled “at-risk.”

The state Department of Education will release complete results of this year’s report cards Friday. High school report cards won’t be released until January, as schools revise graduation rates in accordance with federal guidelines.

Although principals at the Waccamaw schools said they couldn’t discuss the specifics of the report cards until Friday’s release, they offered praise for teachers and students, and for the degree of parental involvement.

“I have tremendous faith in our teachers,” Waccamaw Middle School principal William Dwyer said. “Their efforts have been very reaffirming. We have a very active group, both our young and veteran teachers alike. They enjoy what they do and take responsibility to be the best they can be.”

Said Waccamaw Elementary School principal Vervatine Reid. “I compliment both our staff and the efforts of our parents to be involved. It’s the type of dedication that pays off. When our students show up, they are ready to learn.”

The report cards are based on student achievement and are measured by standardized test scores and the progress that has been made toward the state’s education goals. Being able to show growth in the improvement rating is especially satisfying in terms of the school report card system.

“The [improvement] rate is a child by child match,” Waccamaw Intermediate principal Tim Carnahan said. “It’s a measure that shows how much all groups of students have improved.” Report cards are based in part on scores on the state’s standardized tests: the PASS test for grades three through eight.

The improvement ratings are based on progress toward the state’s educational goals. That’s always been troublesome for Waccamaw schools, because the high overall ratings mean improvement must come in narrow areas.

“Georgetown County has pursued the use of technology in all curricular areas to keep students engaged and active participants in their learning,” said Patti Hammel, the director for student performance for Georgetown County School District. “Teachers have been able to diagnose students’ needs through assessments such as Measures of Academic Progress [MAP] and teacher made common assessments... We attribute much of our success to teacher collaboration and ongoing professional development.”

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