Blythewood schools shine on SC report card

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood area schools generally bested other Midlands schools on the recently released 2021 school report cards, though a few schools fell short of state and district results.

Four of five Blythewood area elementary schools performed better than their counterparts in Richland Two as well as in the state in all subject areas.

Lake Carolina, Langford, Round Top and Bethel-Hanberry elementary schools topped district and state results in Language Arts, Math and Science, according to state report card data.

Blythewood Middle, Kelly Miller Middle and Muller Road middle schools achieved the same feat in Language Arts and Science, though two schools – Kelly Miller and Muller Road – fell short in Math.

At the high school level, Blythewood High School surpassed the district and state results in English, Algebra, Biology and U.S. History and Constitution by double digit percentage points.

Westwood High School nearly matched state and district averages in English, but fell short of state and district averages by double digit percentage points in other subject areas, report card data shows.

How Schools Performed

Round Top Elementary led local area elementary schools with 65% of students meeting or exceeding expectations on the SC Ready-Language Arts exam. That’s more than 20 percentage points better than Richland Two (43.3%) and South Carolina (42.6%).

Round Top Elementary also performed the best among Blythewood area schools on SC Ready-Math (59.2%) and SC PASS-Science (68.2%).

Only Sandlapper Elementary performed worse compared to the district and state, with the percentage of students at least meeting expectations scoring as follows: SC Ready-Language Arts (34.7%) and SC Ready-Math (30.9%).

Sandlapper also reported 36.6% of students meeting or exceeding expectations on SC PASS-Science, also below state (43.3%) and district (40.9%) averages.

Two of Blythewood’s middle schools – Blythewood and Muller Road – performed relatively well in Language Arts and Science, with at least half of students meeting or exceeding expectations in most subjects and eclipsing the district and state.

Neither Kelly Miller nor Muller Road middle schools managed to match state (37.3%) or district (33.9%) results in Math, report card data shows.

Only 31.5% of Muller Road Middle students met or exceeded standards on the SC Ready-Math exam, while at Kelly Miller the rate was 26.8%.

High School numbers

Blythewood High reported strong numbers in English, with 76.2% meeting or exceeding expectations on end of course tests, exceeding the state (63%) and district (65.6%) by double digit percentage points.

Blythewood High bested the district and state in Algebra, Biology and U.S. History and Constitution, though the percentages of students meeting or exceeding expectations fall off to 50.5%, 50.7% and 46.6%, respectively.

Westwood fell short on all four exams, struggled the most on U.S. History and Constitution, with only 22.2% meeting or exceeding expectations.

The COVID Effect on Learning

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the S.C. Department of Education said this year’s report cards did not use the traditional grading system. Previously the report cards assigned grades of Unsatisfactory, Below Average, Average, Good or Excellent to assess a school and district’s performance.

The Department of Education also blamed the novel coronavirus for systemic declines in student achievement reported across the state. State Superintendent Molly Spearman called the report card results “alarming.”

“These achievement gaps, particularly amongst [sic] our youngest learners, demonstrate just how much learning has been disrupted and how important it is for every student to be face to face with their teacher every day,” Spearman said in a statement.

In 2020-2021, most school districts relied on virtual learning to help curb virus transmission. The emergence of the highly contagious delta variant, which impacts school-aged children more than previous strains, has prompted many districts that had resumed in-person learning to once again switch to virtual.

“Our students perform at their best when they are face-to-face inside the classroom with their teacher,” Spearman said. “We believe these results are an anomaly and we can best change that by ensuring every school remains open and is a safe environment for our students to learn and our teachers to educate them.”

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