Six Darlington schools nab Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards

Darlington, SC - DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Six Darlington County schools have won Palmetto Gold and Silver awards for academic achievement and closing achievement gaps in 2009, according to the SC Department of Education.

In its ninth year, the Palmetto Gold and Palmetto Silver awards program was created for schools attaining high levels of absolute performance, high rates of growth and substantial progress in closing achievement gaps between groups of students.

More than 403 schools across the state earned the awards this year.

"The teachers and staff at these schools have put forth tremendous effort to improve the academic performances of their students. The results are evident," said Dr. Rainey Knight, Superintendent of Education for the district. "I commend them on their accomplishment."

Schools received general awards for overall performance based on both the absolute and growth ratings and the growth index found on school report cards. PASS scores for elementary and middle schools determine these ratings.

For high schools, the ratings are based on Exit Exam results, graduation rate and percentage of students passing end-of-course tests.

A second awards selection procedure is based upon steady growth demonstrated over a minimum of two consecutive years.  A school may qualify for a Silver Award if the school's absolute performance rating is above School at Risk for the most recent year, and its growth index meets defined criteria.

In Darlington County School District, Mayo High School for Math, Science & Technology won a Palmetto Gold Award for General Performance.

Hartsville High School, Carolina Elementary School, and North Hartsville Elementary Schools earned Palmetto Silver Awards for General Performance.

A second set of Palmetto Awards was given for schools that made substantial strides in closing the achievement gap. These awards are based on academic gains made by students who fall into four subgroups -- African American students, Hispanic students, students participating in federal free- or reduced-price lunch programs and students with non-speech disabilities.

In Darlington County, Lamar High School and Hartsville High School won Palmetto Gold Awards for Closing the Achievement Gap. St. John's Elementary School earned a Palmetto Silver Award for Closing the Achievement Gap.

"Schools that win these awards take the initiative to create quality instructional programs," said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex.  "More than half the schools recognized have student poverty levels above 60 percent.  With dedication and hard work, they've done an excellent job for students despite the odds."

The PalMetto Gold & Silver Awards were established in 1998 as part of the Education Accountability Act. The Education Oversight Committee developed the criteria for the awards.

Primary schools with only grades two and below are not eligible for the awards.  State law bases the award criteria on student achievement, and PASS tests are not administered to students in the early grades.