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York County school districts received stellar grades in the first tally under a new accountability system intended to mark the beginning of a post-No Child Left Behind era in South Carolina.
All four districts – Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Clover and York – hit federal testing targets and are performing well above the state’s expectations, according to standardized test results released this morning.
It’s a dramatic turnaround from this time last year when all four districts failed to reach federal goals.
State education leaders say that’s because the old federally-mandated approach to evaluating schools was “all or nothing” and unfairly penalized schools where students were improving.
They say the new system paints a fairer and more accurate picture of how schools are performing.
South Carolina is among 33 states, including Washington D.C., that was granted a federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind law’s “pass-fail” structure. The states must still abide by the law, but they were allowed to create new systems to comply.
The core of the federal 2001 law remains the same: Schools must show that all types of students are moving toward proficiency in English and math. They report standardized test scores for all racial groups, students with disabilities, students who speak limited English and those who receive free and reduced-price lunch.
In the past, schools only met their goal of “adequate yearly progress” if a target percentage of students in each of those groups passed the tests. If one group failed to reach a target, the school didn’t make AYP. No credit was given for any progress students made from one year to another. Title 1 schools that continuously missed AYP faced sanctions.
S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said his new system allows for context and nuance.
Districts and schools receive grades of A through F for a variety of measures. They also receive credit for progress students make on state tests.
A grade of C indicates a school or district met the state’s expectations.
Along with the federal accountability grades, the state also released results of standardized tests students took last school year.
Those include the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (or PASS) taken by students in third through eighth grade and the high school exit exam know as HSAP.
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