SOUTH CAROLINA — South Carolina scores on the national report card show the largest declines for fourth graders since 2003 as Mississippi moves ahead of S.C. in results.
Results from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Reading and Math were recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” NAEP is the only assessment that allows comparisons of public education achievement across states.
According to the data, results for South Carolina students show a significant decrease in performance for fourth graders in both reading and math. South Carolina’s fourth grade reading performance — as measured from 2015 to 2017 — was the second largest decline in the nation.
Performance was flat from 2015 to 2017 for South Carolina eighth grade students.
The NAEP administration began in 2003 and is a requirement for states — including S.C. — who receive Title I federal funding. All states currently participate in the Reading and Math assessments, testing a representative sample of students in mathematics and reading at grades 4 and 8 every two years.
Science, once a required tested area, is now an optional offering for states, the agency stated.
So, what about Pickens County? Well, results are reported out at the state level, not at the school or student level, they explained. This year’s assessments were digitally-based and delivered to students on tablets, routers and mobile connectivity provided by NCES.
According to Education Oversight Committee (EOC) Chairman Neil Robinson, the results of NAEP, often referred to as the “gold standard,” are designed to be used by teachers, principals, parents, policymakers and researchers to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States.
“The release today emphasizes the importance of putting value on the education of the young people we serve in schools every day,” stated Robinson. “The states who improved, including Florida who led the nation, point to the importance of strong accountability and a continued focus on strong teaching and learning.”
Melanie Barton, EOC executive director stated that the staff was reviewing the historical trends for South Carolina and neighboring states and emphasized that a new accountability system this fall would provide an opportunity for the state to refocus.
Schools have not received ratings for three years, she said.
In 2005, results on NAEP showed significant improvements made by South Carolina students. South Carolina made the largest gains nationally in eighth grade math, fourth grade science, and eighth grade science.
Fourth grade math showed the second largest jump nationally, with S.C. ranked 28th nationally.
“As we dig into the data, we see that when the accountability system was strong in South Carolina, we were one of the fastest improving systems in the country. Now, we are losing ground to states whom we have previously outperformed,” Barton stated.
Robinson concluded the responsibility to reverse course lies with all of us.
“To ensure our students success and our state’s economic future, we must all own this issue; ‘we’ includes the EOC members, the SC Department of Education, educators, policymakers, school board members, community leaders, businesses, parents and students,” stated Robinson.
“We must ask ourselves what system of learning and measures of progress we need to put in place to move our students and our state forward,” she said.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.