Sentinel Progress

SDPC graduation rates rise

PICKENS COUNTY — The South Carolina Department of Education recently released state report cards for S.C. schools and districts highlighting some changes in the School District of Pickens County, including an increase in the graduation rate.

According to the report card, SDPC’s four-year high school graduation rate hit a new high of 84 percent for the 2016-2017 school year, topping last year’s record of 83.4 percent.

“Improving the graduation rate has been a point of emphasis from the school board for about a decade and we continue to see steady improvement,” said Dr. Danny Merck, SDPC superintendent. “I’m also very proud of the fact that for the first time in our history, each of our four high schools had a graduation rate above 80 percent and that Daniel High School has topped 90 percent for the second year in a row. Our schools foster positive relationships, and the rising graduation rate is a result of a culture that continues to improve.”

Although the report does show an increase in the graduation percentage, there are decreases in attendance (94.6 this year, 95.1 last) and enrollment in career an technology courses (3,081 this year, down from 3,354 last.)

In addition, dual enrollments dropped as did percentage of seniors completing college applications, according to the report.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will require states to give every school a report card that will include an overall rating 2018, said SDPC Information Specialist John Eby. The accountability system developed by the South Carolina Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee earned strong reviews from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in a report released this month.

“Report cards play an instrumental role in providing transparency and accountability to parents and the public on the performance of our schools,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “I encourage the public to pay close attention to the important information contained in the report cards so that we can make informed decisions together in the best interest of our students.”

New to the 2017 report card is the added functionality of directly comparing data and performance for up to three schools or school districts and the ability to print in a more comprehensive, easy to read format, the SCDE stated in the report.

“Report cards are designed to provide a progress report on how schools and districts are performing on the World Class Knowledge, Skills and Characteristics outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate and are reported through test score measures that indicate readiness for college using the ACT, SAT, End of Course Tests, and readiness for careers using WorkKeys,” they said. “Elementary and middle school progress is shown through student performance on the SC READY assessments for English Language Arts and Mathematics and SC PASS assessments for Science and Social Studies. South Carolina’s four year graduation rate has climbed to 84.6 percent, an all time high and a two percent increase over the previous year.”

The report cards also highlight a multitude of opportunities provided to students at each grade level, which include Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Dual Credit participation, the department said.

“Report cards also provide vital information to the business community by showing the number of students enrolled in Career and Technical courses, number of students who have earned an industry certification and students who participated in an apprenticeship or work based learning opportunity,” the report states.

The 2018 report card will be revamped to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and the state’s new accountability system, the department wrote.

Schools will not be rated for state accountability purposes until Fall 2018 when the state will transition to a single accountability system, they said.

2017 report cards released.
https://www.sentinelprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_SDPC.jpg2017 report cards released. Courtesy photos
High school graduation rates in Pickens County have risen to 84 percent.
https://www.sentinelprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_gradrate.jpegHigh school graduation rates in Pickens County have risen to 84 percent. Courtesy photos

By Kasie Strickland

kstrickland@championcarolinas.com

Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.