Report cards come with mixed results for Aiken Co.

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011

AIKEN, S.C. -- The report cards are out -- but not for the students -- these ones are for the schools.

"We've just been celebrating throughout the day," said Barry Head, the principal for North Augusta Middle School.

His school got an excellent absolute rating and growth rating on its report card. It's one of the only schools in the district to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for this year, 2010 and 2009.

"We just take each year one year at a time, look at the students that we have and try to meet the needs of those students. So far, we've been very successful here," Head said.

But the overwhelming success they're having is not the story in other district schools.

"We did exactly the same on our district report card this year as last year," said Randy Stowe, director of Administrative Services for the School District of Aiken County.

While only four schools decreased in absolute ratings, there was little improvement.

"Ideally, we should be improving every year. In fact, the growth rate was below average," he said.

The county received an average absolute rating, too, which puts it 46th in the state. With the crippled improvement, the Aiken district didn't meet the No Child Left Behind AYP standard either. North Augusta Middle is one of the few individual schools that did.

"The word 'unrealistic' is the key. No Child Left Behind -- the requirements were very unrealistic," Stowe said.

That's why he hopes a waiver will lift those AYP ratings in the spring. He says South Carolina will likely be part of a wave of states doing that. If that happens, he says the district won't be able to use $800,000 on professional development, which is a program that helps schools score better.

Next month, they'll start the budgeting process looking for that $800,000, so they don't lose the very trainers working to lift scores.

He says getting rid of AYP will be a good thing, though. He says some schools currently improve at the state level, but they don't meet one little AYP objective, and thus, they don't meet AYP. He says it's particularly tough for schools with a lot of diversity and sub-groups.

Click here to view the 2011 South Carolina State Report Cards.

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