After a year of poor SAT scores and bottom-line PACT proficiency, news of an across-the-board drop in the number of schools making “Adequate Yearly Progress” is just bad icing on an already inedible cake.
Parents have already had to hear that even the best performing school districts in South Carolina are still hundreds of points below public schools in North Carolina. Now, figures from the State Department of Education show that only 1 out of every 5 schools in South Carolina met goals for “Adequate Yearly Progress.”
Of all the public schools in South Carolina, only a pitiful 18% managed to meet federally-defined Adequate Yearly Progress Goals for 2008. That breaks down to 715 of the state’s 875 elementary and middle schools failing to meet their goals! Of the 200 high schools in the state, 165 failed to meet their AYP goals.
Ever a rock in time of crisis, the SC Department of Education has jumped to pawn off this latest failure as nothing more than the natural result of having high academic standards! That’s right, according to our resident architects of underperformance at the SDE, consistently failing to educate children is actually a sign of an appropriately rigorous educational environment.
In the SDE press release announcing this newest low, Superintendent Jim Rex “noted that other states are seeing the same downward trends with AYP. “But it’s more dramatic here in South Carolina because our standards for proficiency are higher,” he said. ” In other states, it’s easier to clear the bar.”
The hypocrisy of this statement is appalling. Rex has spent the last year expending every shred of political capital he can muster to water down state accountability standards. Now he wants to shirk any responsibility for failing to meet the goals that the State Department of Education’s bureaucrats set for South Carolina in the first place!
What’s more, the standards were established seven years ago in 2001, when the NCLB law was passed. The public schools have had seven years to meet the benchmarks, but 4-in-5 failed to do so.
Jim Rex putting a good face on failure is not going to help students in South Carolina get into good colleges, or help them land the type of high-paying jobs the state’s economy so desperately needs. Rex has claimed to care about making the state’s public schools competitive on a national and international scale. The posturing, blame shifting, and begging for more money that has characterized his administration’s response to underachievement has South Carolina no closer to meeting those goals than before he took office. As student achievement in other states, and around the world, continues to climb, students in South Carolina fall further behind.