Horry Co. Schools make gain on state report cards

Horry County, SC - HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - State report cards issued for public schools and districts for the 2008-2009 academic year reveal the Absolute and Growth ratings have improved in Horry County Schools.

District spokeswoman Teal Britton says 56 percent of the district's schools received Absolute ratings of 'excellent' or 'good,' up from 48 percent in 2008. A total of 28 percent of schools received Growth ratings of 'excellent' or 'good,' up from 20 percent in 2008.

"I think that we have to be pleased with the results because we saw improvements in a number of schools who were 'good' and 'excellent,'" Britton said. "We should all feel and believe that all children deserve the opportunity to reach their maximum potential in the public school system.

Collectively, 98 percent of HCS schools received Absolute ratings of 'average' or higher, up from 82 percent in 2008. Statewide, 84 percent of schools received ratings of 'average' higher.  District-wide, 46 percent of schools improved their Absolute ratings, six percent had decreased ratings and 48 percent maintained ratings.

Overall as a single district, Horry County Schools maintained its Absolute rating of 'average' and dropped from 'average' to 'at-risk' in its Growth rating. In order for the district to have maintained its 'average' ranking on its Growth rating, officials say at least 10 percent would have had to have performed better than the year before.

Anything less than a 10 percent gain decreases the Growth rating by one level, the district said.

Despite the slight drop, 12 Horry County schools, including Burgess Elementary, received an 'excellent' rating from the State Department of Education. Assistant Principal Felisa McDavid says the rating is a testament to the hard work of teachers and staff at the school.

"We are very motivated. We have a very dedicated staff. We meet weekly to look at where the students are where the progress has been made," explained McDavid.

Officials say Absolute ratings report the performance of students during a given year, while Growth ratings compare the performance of matched students from one year to the next.

Ratings are received in one of five categories – excellent, good, average, below average or at-risk. Results are based on student performance on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) the High School Assessment Program (HSAP), End-of-Course tests, and graduation rates.

Report Card ratings normally are published in November, but the 2009 ratings were delayed due to the statewide process of changing from the replaced Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests, formerly used to rate elementary and middle schools, to the new Palmetto Assessment of State Standards.

After scoring levels for the new PASS tests were set, the EOC had to revise the rating calculations for elementary and middle schools. Rating calculations were not changed for high schools or school districts.

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