School district earns second Good rating on state report cards

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The Beaufort County School District earned its second consecutive Good rating – and the number of schools rated Good or Excellent improved to an all-time high – on 2014 School Report Cards issued today by the South Carolina Department of Education.

The district’s on-time high school graduation rate – the percentage of students who complete high school “on time” and get a diploma in four years – improved to 78.3, up from 75.3 in 2013 and 69.1 five years ago.

“Last year was our first-ever district-wide Good rating, and we’ve maintained that rating this year,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.  “But our goal is an Excellent rating, and we’re going to keep pushing toward that.”

The number of district schools rated Good or Excellent improved from 19 last year to 21 this year.  Looking at five-year trend data, the number of schools rated Good or Excellent has increased from seven in 2009 to 21 in 2014 (25 percent to 68 percent).

The number of schools rated Excellent, Good or Average decreased slightly, from 31 last year (100 percent) to 29 this year (94 percent).  Looking at five-year trend data, the number of schools rated Average, Good or Excellent has increased from 21 in 2009 to 29 in 2014 (75 percent to 94 percent), according to the South Carolina Department of Education.

Six district schools improved their ratings, three dropped a category and the rest retained the same ratings from last year.

Each South Carolina school and district receives a rating — Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average or At-Risk — based on student test scores.  Rating formulas are based on student achievement levels set by the Education Oversight Committee, created by the General Assembly to guide implementation of South Carolina’s Education Accountability Act of 1998.   Report Card data also include student-teacher ratios, dollars spent per student, absentee rates for students and teachers, amount of instructional time, average teacher salaries and the socio-economic status of students’ families.

Beaufort County’s 2014 ratings were boosted by generally higher elementary and middle school scores on Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) exams and by improved scores on high school exit and end-of-course exams.  In addition, the district’s four-year “on-time” high school graduation rate continued to improve.

Overall, the district had 11 schools rated Excellent, 10 rated Good, eight rated Average and two rated Below Average.

Schools rated Excellent were Beaufort High, Bluffton Elementary, Bluffton High, Coosa Elementary, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, Hilton Head Island High, Okatie Elementary, Pritchardville Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, Riverview Charter (elementary grades) and Riverview Charter (middle grades).  Riverview Charter is viewed as two “separate” schools for Report Card rating purposes because it serves both elementary and middle grades.

Schools rated Good were Battery Creek High, Beaufort Elementary, Beaufort Middle, Bluffton Middle, Hilton Head Island International Baccalaureate Elementary, Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center, Hilton Head Island Middle, Michael C. Riley Elementary, Mossy Oaks Elementary and Port Royal Elementary.

Schools rated Average were Broad River Elementary, H.E. McCracken Middle, Joseph Shanklin Elementary, Lady’s Island Elementary, Lady’s Island Middle, Robert Smalls International Academy, Whale Branch Elementary and Whale Branch Early College High.

Schools rated Below Average were St. Helena Elementary and Whale Branch Middle.

Battery Creek High’s on-time graduation rate improved from 77 percent in 2013 to 78  percent in 2014; Beaufort High’s rate declined slightly from 79.7 to 79.2 percent; Bluffton High increased from 71.1 to 75.8; Hilton Head High improved from 83.5 to 86.9 percent; and Whale Branch Early College High improved from 74.1 percent to 77.3 percent.

Looking at trend data, Battery Creek High’s four-year on-time graduation rate went from 71.4 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2014.  Beaufort High improved from 66.3 percent to 79.2 percent; Bluffton High improved from 67.7 percent to 75.8 percent; and Hilton Head Island High improved from 72.7 percent to 86.9 percent.  Whale Branch Early College High, a newer school, only has three years of grad rate data available.

State School Report Card ratings are calculated based on different formulas from ratings under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that were released in October.