District report card shows improvement

COUNTY — The School District of Pickens County’s annual report card, released last week by the state, showed an overall improvement in both absolute and growth ratings, although there is cause for concern at the high school level.

According to a release from SDPC communications director Julie Thompson, the district’s overall absolute and growth ratings improved from average to good from 2009 to 2010, and the 2010 ratings were the highest since the district began a decline from excellent ratings in both categories on the 2004 report card.

“The district ratings affirm that everyone is working together and making student achievement a priority,” said superintendent Henry Hunt. “In the past few years, we’ve concentrated on professional development to help teachers analyze data and then target instruction to students’ strengths and weaknesses. Increased achievement has been the result.”

On high school report cards, Easley, Liberty and Pickens maintained their average absolute ratings from the previous year, while the career center maintained an excellent rating. Daniel High, however, dropped from excellent to good in terms of absolute rating.

The growth ratings of each of the four high schools fell, from good to at-risk for Daniel, Easley and Liberty and from good to average for Pickens.

Absolute ratings are based on a school’s academic performance on achievement measures for the school year, while growth ratings rate a school’s improvement from year-to-year based on a variety of measures.

“Although high school ratings didn’t improve, strong teaching and learning are taking place,” said Brenda Turner, assistant superintendent of instructional services.

According to Thompson’s release, the school district’s on-time graduation rate, which fell from 72.6 percent to 71.2 percent, mirrors a decline seen across the state. The state’s on-time rate — the percentage of students who complete high school “on time” and earn a diploma in four years — fell 1.6 percentage points to 72.06 percent.

“That rate can be misleading because of the difficulty in accounting for students who move from our system or those who take more than four years to earn a diploma,” Turner said. “We will, however, continue to work toward increasing the percentage.

“We’re very proud of our teachers as well as the administrators, counselors, and others who support them each day,” she said. “All of these educators work in tandem to achieve positive results for all students. We have much to celebrate.”