Covering up underperformance is hard work, folks. It almost makes us sympathize with the daily trials of the SC Department of Education as they try to convince everyone that actual progress is being made. That’s no insignificant task, considering South Carolina has the ignoble distinction of a fifty percent graduation rate, bottom line SAT scores, and 200,000 kids stuck in failing schools.
True to form, the trusty Department of Education has taken the abysmal PACT scores released today, and put the spin machine in motion to try and convince everybody that our schools really have improved. It’s funny; they say that every year, but South Carolina is still scrabbling around at the bottom of the educational barrel.
Why do we supposedly reach new heights every year, but never have anything to show for it?
That’s an easy one.
The officially stated goal of the Education Oversight Committee is 90% ‘Proficiency’ by 2010. The highlight reel trotted out by the Department of Education uses the numbers of students who perform at a “Basic” level, not the percentage of students who achieve the desired level of “Proficient.”
Let’s look at a few examples shall we?
This press release from the Department of Education states that 63.7% of 8th graders scored Basic or higher in Mathematics, an improvement from 2006. It sounds great, until you realize that only 20% of 8th graders across the state achieved the set standard of “Proficient” in Math. That’s bad, but hardly the end of the propaganda. In Science, the Department of Education proudly lists an improvement in test results among 8th graders. According to the glowing press release, almost 64% meet the state “standard”. However, do some basic arithmetic, and you’ll quickly realize that only 26% of 8th graders meet the legitimate standard of “Proficient.” In case you’re wondering about Social Studies, almost 67% of 8th graders are listed as testing where they should. In reality, a pitiful 16% of 8th graders are rated Proficient or above.
Wait until you read this. In Proficiency, African American 8th graders lag 22 percentage points in English and Math, 28 points in Science and 17 points in Social Studies.
Is this for real? This is the system that so many politicians and bureaucrats are bending over backward to accommodate and expand?Something has to change, and until parents are given real educational options, nothing will. South Carolinians must take a stand against pouring money without reservation into a system that perpetuates this kind of failure. The wool has been pulled over everyone’s eyes for too long, and the effect it has had on the state is massive. This year’s PACT result, and the dishonest portrayal of them, is a call to action for every family in the Palmetto State. For those of you who wonder why we only graduate half our children and why we rank so low on college entrance exams, look no further than the PACT Proficiency results.
Parents must be able to choose the right school for their child. If we fail to demand this basic right, the real failure is with us.
For all the 2007 PACT results, click here.