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Colleton school leaders cite improvements despite dips in state report card rankings

Six of Colleton County’s seven public schools have been ranked below average on a recently-released state report card, but local school leaders say they are proud of improvements happening in the school district that the report card didn’t spotlight.
“Six of our seven schools increased overall, in the indicator of student progress being made,” said Jessica Williams, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Colleton County School District. Williams sat down with local Colleton media outlets last week to discuss the report card results. She was joined by Tracy McDonald, coordinator of Accountability and Assessments, and Dr. Franklin Foster, superintendent of the Colleton County School District.
On October 1st, S.C. Department of Education released its annual report cards of each school and each district in the Palmetto State. The report is based on ongoing testing done to each student in each school throughout the school year. It is a part of the state’s “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which was created in 2015. The report card uses seven metrics to measure school performance.
According to the results of that report card, the Colleton County School District has a score of 24.4 in ELA. This is compared to the state’s overall ELA average of 45.4.
Colleton’s overall math score is 21.3, compared to the state’s average in math of 45.10.
Broken down by school, the results show that Bells Elementary School is ranked below average, compared to an unsatisfactory report the school received in 2018;
Cottageville Elementary is ranked below average. This school was also ranked as below average in 2018;
Forest Hills Elementary is listed as unsatisfactory, the same ranking that it had in 2018;
Hendersonville Elementary was ranked unsatisfactory, the same ranking it received in 2018;
Northside Elementary is ranked as being average, compared to its below-average ranking in 2018;
Colleton County Middle is ranked as below average, versus its unsatisfactory ranking from 2018;
Colleton County High dropped to below average, compared to its average ranking in 2018.
Despite the low individual rankings, Colleton County School District officials told local media outlets last week that they are happy with the improvements being made at several local schools.
“Three of six of our schools earned a higher ranking this year: Northside Elementary, Colleton Middle and Bells Elementary,” said Williams. “There is still room for growth,” she said.
Williams says the school district is working on a plan to continually improve each of the districts’ schools. This includes the ongoing use of teacher-based support groups that help instructors gather data, and then pull strengths and weaknesses to students’ scores and needs. “We have a heavy focus on this,” said Williams. “Our teachers plan collaboratively with lessons, along with reading coaches and instructional staff.” This plan was implemented three years ago in the Colleton County School District.
“We’ve had a strong emphasis on the profile of the S.C. student graduate,” said McDonald. “And we are working hard on a positive behavior system, a proactive approach to discipline.”
According to Sean Gruber, spokesman for the Colleton County School District, local schools “increased greatly” this year in individual scores, compared to scores received last year. Gruber said an internal district-operated team will be assessing each school’s prep data for the incoming state tests, to help boost next year’s scores. He also said the district will continue with teacher support.
Gruber also said in a press release that Dr. Foster “welcomes all stakeholders to become active in their school community,” and encourages parents to attend parent-teacher nights, family learning nights and to “seek ways to assist schools in their academic improvement journey,” he said.

“We also encourage stakeholders to visit our schools to see the great things happening within our district,” said Gruber, in a written statement.
Moving forward, Williams and McDonald said they are encouraging parents and the entire community to get more involved in the district. “There are a lot of factors that go into a report card. Get involved in your child’s schools and get involved in their education,” said Williams. “Support your child, and support your child’s teacher. Our job is to make a child career-ready, and takes more than a teacher in a classroom. It takes a community.”
For more information on the report cards, visit www.colletonsd.org.

Heather Walters (1568 Posts)