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Florence 1 Schools more than doubles number of ‘Excellent’ schools on new SC Dept of Ed report cards

According to new school report card data released by the South Carolina Department of Education, four schools in Florence 1 Schools achieved the highest overall rating of Excellent, more than doubling the number from the previous school year.

“We are incredibly proud to have gone from having just one excellent school last year to four this year,” said Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley. “The growth within our district has been tremendous. If you look at Timrod Elementary School, for example, their rating went from Below Average to Excellent, a 26-point jump.”

The other schools that achieved Excellent were Carver Elementary School, up from Average; Delmae Elementary School, up from Good; and Royall Elementary School, which maintained its Excellent overall rating from last year, even increasing their numerical score by nine points.

Additionally, Florence 1 went from having just one school in the Good category to having five.

Ten schools moved from Unsatisfactory or Below Average to Average; an eleventh school was .27 points away from the Average benchmark.

“This is very impressive growth for one year,” O’Malley said. “We didn’t just move one school or two schools. Last year, eleven of our schools were in the lowest bottom two rating levels.  Ten of those schools moved up 1 to 3 levels, with the eleventh school being very close, less than a half point from moving a level.” 

One hundred percent of the schools either maintained or improved their overall rating; 95 percent of the schools improved one or more rating levels.

According to Hayley Cagle, Director of Testing and School Improvement for Florence 1, Student Progress and Academic Achievement account for 90 percent of the elementary and middle school report card rating. The other ten percent of the score comes from a student survey.

In the Student Progress Indicator, a separate score from the overall school rating, there was also great growth. Four schools jumped two indicator levels. Five schools, Southside Middle, Greenwood Elementary, Henry Timrod, John Moore Intermediate and Wallace Gregg Elementary, all jumped three indicators.

Student Progress is measured in English Language Arts and Math. Scores are compared to other South Carolina students who initially scored at the same level of Exceeds, Meets, Approaches, Does Not Meet on the SC READY test. Once scores are compiled, a state average is found for each of those score scale values and a growth factor is calculated. The majority of schools in Florence 1 outgrew other schools in the state.

In the Academic Achievement category, seven schools grew one indicator level.

Report cards look slightly different at the high school level, with markers such as College & Career Readiness, and Graduation Rate. All three high schools achieved a rating of Average, with graduation rates at either Average or Good; Wilson High School had its highest graduation rate in five years at 85 percent.

“We have a district goal of a 95 percent graduation rate by 2021,” O’Malley said. “Our district average, between the three schools, is higher than the state average but that is not our goal.  We are building a premier school district that competes with others nationally.”