The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) needs to hear from you by December 30. Earlier this month, the EOC delayed a key vote to merge state and federal accountability systems next year to allow more time for members of the public to weigh in before the final vote. This new accountability system will be in place for the forseeable future so it is imperative the state gets it right.
We are counting on you to make your voice heard in one of two ways:
- You can click here to read all 55 pages of recommendations and write your own comments to the EOC on their comments page located here
- OR you can use our comments and recommendations below and share on the EOC’s comment page here.
- Recommendation 1
Agree with all of the above metrics proposed by the EOC.
- Recommendation 2
Agree with all proposed, keeping current standards’ approval process by EOC and State Board of Education.
- Recommendation 3
Agree with proposal keeping science and social studies assessments. However, before offering students a second free administration of the ACT in the 12th grade, students should have completed and/or be enrolled in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Biology, and Chemistry – which are recommended for the ACT.
- Recommendation 4
Agree that the SCDE propose a timeline to the EOC based on assessment plan outlined in Recommendation 3.
- Recommendation 5
Agree with adding evidence of skills outlined during next cyclical review, however the date of that review should be specified, and assuming that there is a reliable, evidence-based measure of those particular skills at that time.
- Recommendation 6
Agree with districts not receiving summative ratings, but districts still having report cards that include information on the number of elementary, middle and high schools in the district by their summative rating.
- Recommendation 7
I support the use of points-index, but I believe that the proposed customized growth to proficiency ratios based on an elementary school’s achievement rates may jeopardize the accountability system’s ability to meaningfully differentiate if proficiency expectations are lower for some schools and the students they serve. Criterion-based growth measures should be used to recognize students’ academic progress on the state’s standards. For growth to contribute to meaningful differentiation as described in SC’s state plan, no points – instead of less than 100 points – should be earned by students who do not grow annually.
The EOC should consider including the growth of a school’s lowest 25% of students in the state’s accountability system. Not only would this give low-performing schools an incentive to work towards continuous improvement, but knowing that these gains, even if not yet at proficiency levels, would be counted positively in the accountability rating. This would also send the message to schools that all students’ educational outcomes are important, rather than the majority of students. The lowest performing 25% of students in a school come from all races and ethnicities, all income levels and all curricular backgrounds, and they are found in all schools.
While we agree that chronic absenteeism and student surveys can meaningfully measure school quality and student success and should be reported on school report cards, since this is the first time our state would be implementing the use of student surveys in all schools for the purposes of accountability, it should be first piloted to ensure fidelity before being built into the accountability system. Furthermore, while there are many benefits of including chronic absenteeism as a measure, there are unfortunately unintended consequences such as incenting schools to define “absence” as narrowly as possible, as well as leading districts to unjustifiably pursue legal action against families whose children are missing a lot of school. However, by reporting chronic absenteeism on the school’s report card, districts would have clear data to equip schools and educators with professional development around what can be done at the school-level to address students’ chronic absenteeism.
Additionally, I support the use of a clear, transparent report card measure such as an A-F letter grade or 0-100 scale.
- Recommendation 8
While SC considers setting expectations for school ratings based on the proposed 10-20-40-20-10 distribution, this approach should only be used to ensure an appropriate distribution in the initial implementation year. When the schools make progress, an automatic increase in the scale would accommodate the continuous improvement of schools over time to achieve SC’s long-term goals.
- Recommendation 9
I support the decision to revise the criteria for rewarding elementary and middle schools that make significant growth, for rewarding all schools (elementary, middle, and high) that are progressing at closing the achievement gaps between subgroups of students based on race and socioeconomic status. However, I hope the EOC will take a look at the current factors such as student attendance, teacher attendance, and graduation rates and determine if they should be replaced with factors that more directly correlate to achievement, such as chronic absenteeism instead of attendance, student surveys rather than teacher attendance, and college and career readiness over than graduation rates.
- Recommendation 10
Agree with state law amendment requiring the EOC to identify the programs and policies at schools and districts that have significantly improved student achievement or closed the gap among historically underachieving groups.
- Recommendations 11-18
As it relates to Recommendations 11 and 12 and ESSA’s requirement to identify the lowest 5% of schools, I would support SC identifying for comprehensive support the lowest 5% of schools overall (not just the lowest 5% of Title I schools in the state as required by ESSA). But, federal school improvement funds should be limited to the identified Title I schools. And, I would note that there’s a tradeoff: the more schools you identify, the fewer state funds there are per identified school.
As it relates to Recommendations 13-16, I agree that assistance for underperforming schools falls under the purview of the Department, not the EOC, but I encourage the EOC to maintain oversight of that assistance being provided to ensure those funds are spent wisely and assistance provided is resulting in improvement for those particular schools.
As it relates to Recommendation 17, in order to ensure report cards are accessible to all families, I believe their should be an online version that can be found at an easy URL such as “SCReportCard.com” similar to “IllinoisReportCard.com” as well as a hard-copy printed version that is mailed to all students’ homes by the school or district. The timeliness of these report cards are critical to informing parents about what school will serve their child’s learning needs. Ideally, report cards would be released prior to the end of the school year or during the summer, before the start of the next school year. I believe school report card with a clear summative rating, such as “A, B, C, D, F” or 0-100 , will boost parental involvement as parents become more informed about school quality and performance and will give military families and others moving to SC from one of the other 17 states that use A-F an easy measure by which to compare schools. In addition to a school report card with a clear summative rating, I see value in a “dashboard” of information.
Additionally, I believe it is important for the EOC draft plan to include school-level per-pupil funding, broken down by state, district, and school levels for academic and non-academic programs is reported, as required under ESSA. This will improve fiscal transparency across schools and districts, as well as encourage schools to allocate resources where they are most needed based on school specific needs, rather than from the district-level alone. I would also like to ensure that the percentage of students entering Kindergarten ready to learn as measured by a common kindergarten readiness assessment, along with data on those students progress in ELA is reported and made available to the public on the new school report cards.
- * 12. County of residence
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- * 13. Please identify yourself in one of the following categories.
- * 14. Please provide any suggestions/comments you have about the overall recommendations.
Overall, I believe the EOC’s draft plan is very strong. With some minor tweaks and clarifications the EOC plan, when implemented with fidelity, will set up our state for success and for students to achieve the Profile of a SC Graduate.