Local schools earn state awards

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Eighteen Beaufort County schools have earned 2013 Palmetto Gold or Silver awards for student academic achievement, the South Carolina Department of Education announced.

Only eight of South Carolina’s 84 school districts had more schools to earn awards this year, and all have larger student populations and more schools than Beaufort County.

“The long-term improvement trend is definitely positive,” said Acting Superintendent Jackie Rosswurm.  “Five years ago, we had seven state award winners compared to this year’s 18.  That kind of increase demonstrates a strong commitment on the part of our district’s educators, and it’s also evidence of a lot of hard work not only from students, but also from parents.”

Board of Education Chairman Bill Evans said he was pleased with the improvement.

“The combination of professional development activities coupled with a stronger district-wide focus on curriculum and the exceptional commitment of staff have been the driving forces behind student growth,” Evans said.  “We’re entering a new and vibrant period in the district’s history, bringing together the recently elected board members and the arrival of a new superintendent.  I envision a strong partnership that will continue to set student growth as its priority and recognize the valuable and essential role of staff and the community.”

The Palmetto Gold and Palmetto Silver program was created by the South Carolina General Assembly to recognize schools that attain high levels of absolute performance, high rates of growth and substantial progress in closing achievement gaps between groups of students.

The state’s Education Oversight Committee (EOC) establishes criteria for the awards, and the Department of Education applies those criteria to determine which schools are honored. The EOC revised the eligibility criteria in October 2012 to make them more demanding.

Seven Beaufort County schools earned 2013 Gold awards for general performance, while 10 won Silver awards.  Three district schools earned Gold awards for closing achievement gaps, while two won Silver awards.

Four schools were “double winners” recognized for both general performance and closing achievement gaps: Broad River Elementary, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary, Lady’s Island Elementary and Okatie Elementary.  Lady’s Island and Okatie won Gold awards in both categories.

Schools receive awards for general performance based on both their absolute and growth ratings and the growth index found on state school report cards. These ratings are determined by PASS scores for elementary and middle schools.  For high schools, ratings are based on Exit Exam results, graduation rates and percentages of students passing end-of-course tests.

Schools receive closing the achievement gap awards based on academic gains made by students in four categories: African-American students, Hispanic students, students participating in federal free- or reduced-price lunch programs and students with non-speech disabilities.

Here are the 2013 winners for schools in northern Beaufort County: Battery Creek High, Beaufort Elementary, Beaufort High, Broad River Elementary, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary, Lady’s Island Elementary, Mossy Oaks Elementary, Port Royal Elementary, Riverview Charter (elementary grades, Shell Point Elementary.