Tag Archives: SAT

Public School Achievement Gap in South Carolina

Jim Rex Bridge Achievement Gap

The “Achievement Gap” is a name used to describe the persistent and unjust disparity between test scores among different  racial and economic groups enrolled in South Carolina’s government schools.

New data have been released, and some are hoping it constitutes a reversal of this troubling long term trend.

The political publicists at the State Department of Education spun it this way:

South Carolina’s “achievement gap” between white and African-American students mirrors the rest of the nation’s, according to a federal government report released today.  Although mathematics and reading test scores have improved for both ethnic groups, the gap between the two has decreased only in math.

But looking past the soundbites, the data do not seem to mesh with other, independently gauged, indicators. Continue reading

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Ten Years Later: EOC Still Rubber-Stamping SDE Failures

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Failure? Nothing! I see NOTHING!!!

Today the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee is scheduled to discuss where South Carolina public schools stand ten years after the institution of the Education Accountability Act.

Unfortunately many South Carolina families already have to see first hand how poorly their local public schools perform when it comes to meeting educational goals. This year, four out of five public schools failed to meet the mark for Adequate Yearly Progress. Equally disheartening were South Carolina SAT results, which showed only 7 of 85 districts with average scores above the national average. Even the SAT scores of the state’s highest performing school district were hundreds of points behind similar districts in North Carolina.

Inadequate achievement test scores are just one aspect of the failed education establishment in the Palmetto State. The number of children dropping out of public school every year is in the tens of thousands, and the problem is not diminishing. Continue reading

Bureaucrats owe parents honesty

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Great guest column from last weeks’ Times Examiner and Greenwood Today:

Honesty is the foundation of improvement

A problem has to be identified before it can be solved.

This bit of common sense wisdom has been lost on the public school establishment.

Last Tuesday, Jim Rex’s State Department of Education announced details of a statewide jump in SAT scores. Rex described a two-point gain by South Carolina students and reiterated the Department’s signature “stay the course” and “sustained improvement” message.

A handful of policy experts, reporters and bloggers were skeptical. By week’s end a clearer picture had emerged: Jim Rex and his communication director Jim Foster had played fast and loose with the numbers. They relied on dramatic private school score gains to hide a drop in public school scores. Continue reading

Journalists frustrated with public school failures

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Across South Carolina, newspaper editors and reporters are voicing their frustration with the sustained failure of SC public schools. Here are a few recent highlights:

PACT with excuses for sad test scores” by Andrew Dys of the Rock Hill Herald.

…Certainly, when the old [PACT] test was a failure, the best recourse is to change the test. The old name had to go, too. The Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test, the old bugaboo that told us every year our kids weren’t doing as well as they should, was clearly at fault.

Not the schools. Not you. Not me.

PACT was sent packing along with all those bad scores. If you change the name and the test, nobody will ever remember all the times the scores tanked, right? Continue reading

SAT: But OUR schools did well, right?!

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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. Continue reading

SAT: Public Schools Down, Private Schools Up

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Where are your kids?

Every year it is the same sad story: SAT tests scores are down, stagnant, or inch forward for some tiny subset of public school students.

Then the PR machine at the State Department of Education works to massage the data into a glimmer of hope, and sends Inez Tenenbaum Jim Rex out to share the “good news” about the “great leap forward.”

Sadly, this year is no different.

Like last week’s ACT scores, the SAT scores show that South Carolina public schools are stagnant.

They also show that low-income and minority children are falling further behind, widening one of the nation’s largest achievement gaps.

But there is good news too: students attending private schools continue to excel. Continue reading

K-12 Performance Gaps: More Bad News


Despite nationwide improvement, race and wealth correlated achievement gaps continue to widen in SC public schools.

In April, South Carolina’s Education Oversight Committee (EOC) quietly released a report identifying a dramatic growth in the academic performance gap between black and white children attending our public schools. It also pointed to a growing achievement gap between low-income students and their middle class peers.

Now, two additional reports have a similar message: The state of public education is worsening in South Carolina, especially for low income and minority students

The Center on Education Policy (CEP) released a report in late June investigating whether the use of NCLB and other accountability tools correlated with student improvement. The authors concluded that in most states, math and reading scores are up since 2002, but they are uncertain if the new law deserves all the credit. The found that nationwide gaps between black and white students had diminished, but that in South Carolina performance gaps between white students and African-American students actually widened, most notably in 4th and 8th grade math. Similarly, performance gaps between low-income and other students grew in both math and reading.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) also found that South Carolina is failing to improve. Their annual Challenge to Lead Goals Report of public school indicators in 16 states identified a growth in the already staggering performance gap between racial/ethnic groups in South Carolina. This despite a total reduction of the gap in the region. Among their conclusions: In South Carolina “the average composite SAT score increased more for white students than for black students from 1997 to 2007.” Economically-correlated gaps are growing too. SREB found that: SC fourth graders from low-income families widened gaps with peers in reading.

These gaps are NOT the result of improvement at the “best” public schools or by the wealthiest students. SREB went on to identify all South Carolina’s students as trailing both regional and national peers in reading, SAT scores, SAT participation, AP scores, AP participation, and average graduation rate. This despite the fact that “SC’s funding for K-12 students outpaced enrollment and inflation from 2000 to 2005.”

In fact, it has been shown that middle class and wealthy suburban public schools are the furtherest behind their national and regional socio-economc peers. This despite the national trend, identified by Fordham and Brookings scholars, of greater recent gains for low-income and minority students in most states. Only in South Carolina, where public school failure is so widespread, has both the gap widened and total average performance dropped.