These state-issued report cards are required by a federal education law called the ESSA

S.C. Department of Education releases 2021 Report Cards for schools, districts
Posted on 09/01/2021
Students working in a classroom

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

S.C. Department of Education releases 2021 Report Cards for schools, districts

BEAUFORT – The South Carolina Department of Education today released school and district Report Cards that reflect the 2020-2021 school year. These state-issued report cards are required by a federal education law called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

The South Carolina Report Card measures progress of schools toward the goals of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. These goals include Academic Success, Preparing for Success, Multi-Lingual Learner Growth, Graduation Rate, and producing graduates that are College and/or Career Ready.

Due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on school operations and instruction during the 2020-2021 school year and the adjusted requirements from the United States Department of Education, the descriptive overall ratings of Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory that are typically assigned to schools as well as individual report card indicators do not appear on the 2021 report cards. The 2021 report cards include results from state assessments administered in Spring 2021, the first administration of state assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As detailed in a media release from the South Carolina Department of Education, “The SCDE cautions against comparing this year’s assessment results to those from previous years as testing limitations and incomplete data have led to some results not being representative of the make-up of the state, districts, or individual school populations. The South Carolina Department of Education hopes that parents, communities, and school leaders will use these report cards as a tool to engage in important conversations about the previous year's challenges and the work that must be done collectively to ensure students complete unfinished learning and arise out of the pandemic stronger than before.”

The Beaufort County School District (BCSD) exceeded the state performance in all of the reportable categories released. However, Superintendent Frank Rodriguez still acknowledges the significant work ahead. “Even though the school district outperformed the state, we still have a lot to do in order to move student achievement forward as we strive to mitigate the effects of the pandemic that are not only being felt here, but in our state and our nation as well.”

“The state assessment results reflected on the 2021 report cards confirm the alarming trends we have observed from locally administered formative assessments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “These achievement gaps, particularly amongst 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.”

Rodriguez echoed that virtual learning had an impact on Beaufort County students’ performance. “Last year, families had a choice of virtual or face-to-face instruction,” he said. “What we are gleaning from the data is that the schools that were predominantly face-to-face performed better on the state assessment.”

Spearman reinforced the importance of in-person instruction, “Our students perform at their best when they are face-to-face inside the classroom with their teacher.”

BCSD continues to out-perform the state graduation rate of 83.3 percent with 88.5 percent for the Class of 2021. This compares to 85.7 percent for the Class of 2019, making the 2021 rate the highest for the county in recent decades. The graduation rate is measured by the percentage of students who complete high school “on time” and earn a diploma in four years.

Every fall, the Advanced Placement (AP) Program recognizes high school students who have demonstrated outstanding college-level achievement through their performance on multiple AP Exams. The district’s AP scholar awards for 2020-21 increased from 286 in 2019 to 327 for this year, an increase of 14.3 percent. 

“Yes, the district outperformed the state in reportable categories during the pandemic, but we still are not satisfied,” said Rodriguez. “It’s time to dig into the data and do the work for better outcomes for kids alongside our exceptional educators.”