State Report Card Rating Riles Board Member

WINNSBORO – Although Dr. J.R. Green, Superintendent of Fairfield County Schools, classified as “disappointing” results from this year’s district and school report cards, released this month by the S.C. Department of Education, what was more disappointing, he said, was one School Board member’s misinterpretation of those results and her Facebook post stating the results indicated a “dysfunctional school board.”

The District as a whole received, for the third consecutive year, an Absolute Rating of Average, while its Growth Rating slipped from Excellent in 2013 to At-Risk this year.

“I wanted to see us get to ‘Good’ by this year,” Green said. “We came up short. But there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to keep working hard and we’ll get there. Our goals remain high.”

Green said an on-time graduation rate that stalled out below 80 percent was primarily the stumbling block. The District’s on-time graduation rate was 76.3 percent, which is slightly above that of other districts with similar students (76.2 percent). The District also out-performed similar districts on HSAP passage rates (85.9 percent to 85.3 percent) and on End of Course exam passage rates (65.4 to 56.9 percent).

Green said the increased number of “self-contained students” (students identified as having cognitive disabilities) who are not seeking a four-year diploma, but are instead seeking certificates, counted against the district’s on-time graduation rate, and represents a flaw in the grading system.

Board member Andrea Harrison (District 1) posted a scathing indictment of the Board and the District on her Facebook account on Nov. 19 after the report cards were released.

“Want to know the results of how a dysfunctional school board [sic]?!! SC Annual Report Card: Fairfield County . . . drumroll please . . . DROPPED from EXCELLENT to At-Risk!!!!!” Harrison’s post began. “Now what’s wrong with that picture?!!”

In an email to the Board and to members of the administration, Green responded on Nov. 20, “Administrators, teachers, students and parents have worked extremely hard to achieve these results, and for someone who is a part of our governing body to attempt to discredit their success is extremely disappointing.  As you will see, Ms. Harrison presents the ‘Growth’ rating in her post to support her position that the district is not experiencing academic success.”

The District’s Absolute rating of Average for three years running is, Green said, the “most significant, sustained, academic success the district has experienced” at least since 2006, which is as far back as the Department of Education’s report card data goes.

Growth ratings represent the movement between scores from year to year, and a school or district can maintain a Good Absolute rating, for example, but have a Growth rating of At-Risk. Scores at a school or district could, for example, drop from 84 to 81. That school or district is still Average, but since the scores dropped 3 points from one year to the next, its Growth rating is At-Risk according to the report card system. Conversely, a failing school may see a Growth rating of Excellent if its scores move from 51 to 59, but the Absolute rating remains At-Risk.

“It is unreasonable to expect that any district would be in a state of perpetual growth,” Green wrote in his email last week.

Harrison, in her post, encouraged community members to attend Board meetings so they can find out “WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON!!”, she wrote, “I know 2 of us will tell you the TRUTH!!”

Green said he is also encouraging the District’s stakeholders to attend and that he plans to present at next month’s meeting facts related to the report cards detailing the District’s run of sustained academic success. He said he will ask Ms. Harrison to also present any evidence she has to the contrary.

Responding by email Monday night, Harrison wrote: “Pursuant to the S.C. Annual District Report Card Summary, in the Growth Rating Category, Fairfield County School District went from a rating of ‘Excellent’ in 2013, to an ‘At-Risk’ rating in 2014. My Facebook post did not misrepresent this public fact.  As a School Board member in Fairfield County, and a champion of education, it is my desire that every parent, community member, etc., be involved in our children’s education, this includes attending school board meetings, which is crucial in ensuring the continued academic success of our children and our school district.”

School by School

Fairfield Elementary – Absolute rating: Below Average. Growth rating: Below Average.

This marks the third straight year of an Absolute rating of Below Average for FES, while their Growth rating is down from last year’s Average. Green said FES houses the largest concentration of Exceptional Ed students in the District, whose scores are calculated along with those of traditional students.

Geiger Elementary – Absolute rating: Average (second straight year). Growth rating: Excellent (also second straight year).

Kelly Miller Elementary – Absolute rating: Average (third year). Growth rating: Average (down from Excellent).

McCrorey-Liston School of Technology – Absolute rating: Average (second year). Growth rating: Average (down from Good).

Magnet School for Math and Science – Absolute rating: Excellent. Growth rating: Good. Second straight year of Absolute rating of Excellent; Growth rating up from Average last year.

Fairfield Middle School – Absolute rating: Average. Growth rating: Average. (Third consecutive year of Absolute and Growth ratings of Average).

Fairfield Central High School – Absolute rating: Average (third year). Growth rating: Below Average (down from Average).

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