Frustrated parents know that low test scores, growing race- and wealth gaps, a 55% graduate rate and a surge in the number of failing public schools are a long term trend in South Carolina public schools.
The so-called “watchdog” of public school accountability and performance is the oddly named Education Oversight Committee (EOC). From late and vague school report cards to watered down standards and even deliberate dishonesty, the Public School Establishment in South Carolina is fiercely dedicated to spending public money on hiding its performance failures.
Now, as bureaucrats scramble to protect their salaries in the face of state budget cuts, there is talk of further erosion of the the already limited “oversight”
The latest in this trend is further evidence that the PASS test, which replaced PACT, is even weaker than its predecessor. The Academic Standards and Assessments Subcommittee of EOC learned the details last Monday:
- PASS has more multiple choice sections than PACT which used writing and critical response
- PASS will have fewer performance levels, meaning more students will “pass” the test even if performance drops
- PASS combines reading and writing into a single measure
- the EOC will set “good enough” standards through “public engagement” and “focus groups” not through national norms or rigorous absolute performance benchmarks
The sad fact is that even with all the funding and “accountability” programs they could ever wish for, the Public School Establishment cannot offer real parental accountability.
Only when parents in South Carolina can actually use the information from report cards and test scores to make real choices about where their children attend school will accountabily reforms have teeth. That requires tax credits for fostering parental engagement and ensuring all parents have the resources to move their children to the best classroom for the student’s invidivual learning needs.
This is NOT a case of public or private schools in South Carolina; it is a case of traditional public schools and charters and magnets and private schools and independent schools and home schooling.
Without comprehensive school choice, too many children across the state will continue to langaush is persistently failing public schools.