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The S.C. Department of Education, at 4 p.m. Thursday, finally released the new School Report Card results for 2017-2018.

The report cards have an entirely new format based on the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirements. The Laurens County School District 55 results were mixed.

Dr. Stephen Peters, LCSD 55 Superintendent, said, “The factors used in determining these results were uncertain during the window of time that is reflected in the evaluation. Now that we have the data, our intention is to use the information provided as a baseline for future growth.”

Schools receive grades in several categories to determine their overall rating. In elementary and middle schools the categories include academic achievement (ELA and math), prepare for success (science and social studies), English learners’ proficiency progress (if the school has a large enough population of English Language Learners), student progress (a comparison of student growth in ELA and math), and school quality (based on the controversial AdvanceED Student Engagement Survey data).

The high school report card drops the student progress category and adds a graduation rate measurement and a college and career readiness measurement. Actual ratings include a numeric value with a total of 100 points possible for the sum of the categories and one of five rankings from Excellent to Unsatisfactory based on a comparative analysis with schools across South Carolina. Regardless of the actual scores, only the top 10 percent of schools receive excellent ratings and the bottom 20 percent of schools must receive unsatisfactory ratings.

In LCSD 55, Gray Court-Owings Middle, Laurens Elementary, Laurens Middle, Sanders Middle, and Waterloo Elementary received “Average” overall ratings. E.B. Morse Elementary, Gray Court-Owings Elementary, Hickory Tavern Elementary, and Laurens District High School received “Below Average” overall ratings. Ford Elementary and Hickory Tavern Middle received “Unsatisfactory” overall ratings.

The AdvanceED Student Engagement Survey had a significantly negative impact on Ford Elementary, Gray Court-Owings Elementary, Hickory Tavern Elementary and Middle, and Laurens District High School, causing each to drop a level in their overall rating.

Director of Administration Ed Murray said, “The results of the AdvanceED survey are not consistent with the survey results recently gathered in LCSD 55’s strategic planning process. So, we need to examine those results closely to address any issues or concerns identified and, also, ensure our students understand the importance and true intent of the AdvanceED surveys in the future.”

Director of Research, Testing, and Accountability Jody Penland said, “We will continue to break down and analyze the data school by school, class by class, and student by student to determine the actions we need to take to improve performance at every level.”

Superintendent Peters added: “We have already begun to take the first steps in some major initiatives that will improve school and student performance. We are grateful to have this baseline data to measure our own growth in the years ahead. By 2021/2022, we expect 90 percent of our students to meet or exceed expectations on state standardized tests.

"We will also be working to be among the top 10 schools in South Carolina on SAT and ACT test results, with 100 percent of our students receiving at least a Bronze level certification on the WorkKeys college and career readiness exam.”

The full school report cards will be available on the SC Department of Education website at https://ed.sc.gov/data/report-cards/sc-school-report-card/. The community can find a link to the site on the district web page at http://www.laurens55.org/ and on each individual school web page for that school’s report card results.