SAT: But OUR schools did well, right?!

comparing apples and oranges.jpg
Success” is relative for York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg.

As reported, release of the SAT scores once again brings bad news for public schools in South Carolina. Average scores are down and gaps between race and income groups continue to widen.

Some parents and lawmakers aren’t concerned, They argue that their public schools in the Upstate and Midlands are bucking the state trend, and earning scores above the national average.

But according to the Department of Education, only seven of eighty five school districts earned average scores above the national average of 1017 points. These are:

YORK 4 – FORT MILL (1,053)
ANDERSON 2 (1,051)
ANDERSON 4 (1,050)
LEXINGTON 1 (1,046)
ANDERSON 1 (1,044)
LEXINGTON/RICHLAND 5 (1,040)
SPARTANBURG 1 (1,038)
ANDERSON 5 (1,019)

That’s great news for white upper middle class parents in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg, right?

No, actually its not.

The reason these seven school seem to be so “exceptional” is that they are being compared to other South Carolina districts. Consider the scores at some of the low-income, rural, and predominantly minority districts:

LEE (806)
WILLIAMSBURG (802)
ALLENDALE (799)
MCCORMICK (793)
FLORENCE 4 (787)
CLARENDON 1 (775)
HAMPTON 2 (726)

In this light, when only compared to the Corridor of Shame Districts, white middle class parents in the South Carolina suburbs can selfishly gloat about their “excellent” government schools.

But the sad fact is that kids in York and Anderson wont be competing with students from Allendale and Hampton for entrance into prestigious colleges or high tech jobs. The real competition comes from children with similar backgrounds in other states (not to mention other countries).

Here is a look at average scores from North Carolina:

CHAPEL HILL-CARRBORO (1179)
WATAUGA (1102)
ASHEVILLE (1066)
BUNCOMBE (1064)
WADE (1059)
HAYWOOD (1058)
IREDELL-STATESVILLE (1056)
HENDERSON (1055)

And from Georgia:

TRION (1070)
FULTON (1065)
CHEROKEE (1062)
OCONEE (1055)
ROME (1051)
FAYETTE (1046)

When compared to students with similar backgrounds in other states, the “success” of public school students in South Carolina’s “best” districts melts away. The average difference between Fort Mill SC and Chapel Hill NC is over 120 points!

Anti-school choice activists in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg are trying to capitalize on the failure South Carolina’s worst schools to paint a picture of relative success, but in absolute terms, their children remain the furthest behind.

Students in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg -not to mention Florence, Clarendon and Hampton- deserve much better. Parents across South Carolina should be free to send their children to the best possible school, be it public charter, magnet, homeschool, or independent. Competition among schools means accountability to parents and an atmosphere of innovation. This is the way to raise test scores for all children.

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6 responses to “SAT: But OUR schools did well, right?!

  1. Solid post. Very eye-opening. One of your best yet. Keep the info coming.

  2. The scores would even be worse if the student from Home School and Private School did not attend public school out of despiration to only play sports. If they could play sports and attend their perfered school they would not drag the scores up. Let them play sports where their parents pay taxes and SC would be sad.

  3. I volunteer in my children’s school a lot. All I see are special classes for those struggling trying to make better scores. The help is there for every child!!
    There all kind of incentives (money, trips, etc) to get
    some of these students motivated as well.
    Has anyone thought that maybe the problem is that it is no longer “in vogue” to help your children with schoolwork, make them accountable for homework, studying, FEED the kids good food and get them to bed at a resonable hour? Things are getting worse and worse when it comes to family values….It’s just NOT a priority anymore !! It’s not about the money ALL THE TIME.
    Barbara

  4. Great points – the family situation is key.
    That also means we should embrace laws and policies that encourage and reward engaged parenting… policies like school choice!
    If parents are responsibly engaged in their child’s education then we need to make it as easy as possible for them to have equal access to a wide range of diverse instructional environments. A family’s income should not be the sole determinant of their access to different types of instructional methods and different schools.
    For those already struggling to pay for tuition and other educational expenses related to homeschooling (in addition to paying taxes for public schools), let’s reward this practice (which saves taxpayer’s thousands of dollars) with modest tax credits!

  5. Greats points concerning school choice. I think it’s a great idea if and only if the parents are engaged to see that we are not just moving disruptive children around the county.

    No good parental support then NO school choice…we can’t bring down the rest of our population of children who happen to attend a school with lots of parental envolvement.
    The children being moved around can not be a behavorial disruption and they must come to class prepared with homework, etc (this of course should be mandated to ALL parents.
    Parents want something then they need to give something…and that something can be given by every single parent and that is … unconditional energy and support.

  6. School choice is systemic change and a shift to accountability. This means children of non-choosing parents also benefit from more focused and efficient instructional practices and more targeted uses of public resources. If your intent is to improve academic success for all children, then you are right to pursue greater parental engagement. A big part of that is giving parents the resources to make real choices about their children’s future, when now only middle income and wealthy families enjoy such options.

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