- South Carolina’s accountability system is built on indicators that are aligned with college and career readiness. The state deserves credit for including science and social studies in its accountability system, which will help signal the critical importance of a well-rounded education for all students.
- The state also places a significant emphasis on the growth of schools’ lowest performing students. The state will also report the percentage of graduates who are college ready, career ready, or college and career ready.
- South Carolina’s accountability system goes above and beyond ESSA’s minimum requirements for identifying schools for comprehensive support and improvement. As a result, it is likely that the state will identify a greater number of very low-performing schools.
- In addition, its exit criteria for schools identified for comprehensive support requires schools to demonstrate some improvement rather than simply no longer qualifying for the designation.
- South Carolina deserves credit for taking a strong stance on the 95 percent assessment participation rate. The state counts untested students as a zero for determining achievement ratings. Schools that miss the participation requirement cannot receive the highest rating in achievement or in the summative rating. In addition, the state threatens the loss of Title I funds if the problem persists.
- South Carolina’s plan could be improved in a number of ways. The state’s goals are overly complex and disconnected from the accountability system. The state’s approach to awarding points and assigning corresponding ratings to indicators and schools likely over-emphasizes high-performing students and masks underperformance and achievement gaps. This is particularly likely because student subgroup performance is not included in the state’s rating system.
- South Carolina should provide greater detail about its plans to support and intervene in struggling schools. For example, the state says it plans to award all of its 7 percent set-aside for school improvement activities through a formula, but it does not specify how it would implement that formula.
- Moreover, the state would have had a stronger plan if it had used some portion of that money for competitive grants to the schools and districts with the strongest improvement plans. This step could materially improve the quality of interventions in identified schools.
- The state’s identification criteria for targeted support schools and exit criteria both deserve further clarification and confirmation that sustained improvement is likely.