South Carolina singled out for misleading school reporting

Jim Rex’s 10 new $100,000+ staffers will have to start reporting the real dropout rate to parents and lawmakers.

Yesterday, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings spoke in Columbia about the new requirements for reporting graduation rates. Under the new federal rules, states will be required to uniformly report graduation rates, and provide data on the individual student demographics.

Parents will be glad to hear about the opportunity to objectively learn how their local schools compare to public schools around the country, but state education officials are predictably unenthusiastic.

Already 80% of South Carolina public schools failed to meet “Adequate Yearly Progress” goals in 2008, and the new regulations would impose even more goals for schools to meet.  Rex has his hands full trying to explain away testing and graduation rate failures, and the addition of new progress goals would only make his agenda of excuses more difficult. This year Rex has done just about everything possible to do away with the assessment measures that show the ineffectiveness and failure of his administration. Replacing the PACT with a new, even more insipid PASS Test was a start. Now Rex is begging the General Assembly to get rid of all ‘absolute’ and ‘improvement’ ratings for local public schools.

Parents can breathe a sigh of relief that Rex has no control of the SAT and ACT, or these tests would probably be gone too.

For all Rex’s parading around the state’s “high standards,” he seems remarkably eager to undermine them.

Put simply, school performance does not come first with SC education bureaucrats; keeping parents in the dark about how their public schools measure up to schools across the nation is first priority, and Rex’s actions show that.

This shameful placing of the bureaucracy above the children can be seen in the SC Department of Education’s misrepresentation of the number of children who graduate high school.

In 2007, the SDE reported a high school graduation rate of over 70%.  This number was bad enough to make give South Carolina public schools the distinction of having the nation’s worst reported graduation rate, but the real number is far more disturbing. A 2008 report by Dr. Harold Long -formerly of the Strom Thurmond Institute- shows that calculating the actual number of 9th graders who receive high school diplomas four years later results in a 49% graduation rate!

Ironically, when Secretary Spellings spoke of the “silent epidemic” of minority children who do not graduate high school, she was talking to the people who are as responsible for it as anyone in the nation. Instead of responding to this need, stability-loving bureaucrats just want to make sure no one points the finger at them.

While this kind of attitude dominates and directs the public education system in South Carolina, parents and taxpayers can expect to see no real improvement or reform. Only when schools and teachers are truly accountable to parents for their performance will we start to see change.

12 responses to “South Carolina singled out for misleading school reporting

  1. Upstate Garnett and Red

    If 49 percent of exiting 8th graders go on to graduate high school 4-years later, and that is the STATEWIDE average – i can only assume the number is ALOT lower in the rural, low-income, and high-minority districts where parental eductional attainment is lower than the state mean.

  2. Betsy Bootstrap

    Why is there not more OUTRAGE from parents? Why are they so willing to believe these educrats and ignore their children’s future? Oh yeah – because any time a parent even tries to have a discussion with a teacher or principal or counselor, they are made to feel like utter idiots. Boot ’em ALL out and start over!



  4. Joh,
    Private school scores are here.

    “…while public scores dip from 983 in 2007 to 980 in 2008, scores at private schools in South Carolina actually shot up from 1023 to 1042. The average was 1037 at independent private schools and 1048 at religious private schools.”

    We have since learned homeschool average scores were 1088

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  6. I would like to see the statistics for kids that are on an IEP that are withdrawn from SC public schools.

    Why are they withdrawing and what does the state do with the funds that were allocated for theses children’s educational services?

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