South Carolina schools may face a new measure of success

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Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - One of the key markers of school accountability across the country is the percentage of students who graduate high school in four years.

But South Carolina may soon track schools’ five-year graduation rates, as well.

It’s something the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee discussed Monday afternoon.

The committee says adding this as a school accountability measure would incentivize and encourage schools to get students across the finish line even if they aren’t able to do it in four years.

In recent years, that’s been around one in five students in South Carolina.

“We feel like the system should value students that may take a little bit longer for them to go across that stage and graduate from high school for various different circumstances, it may take students five years instead of the traditional four years to do that,” said Dana Yow, executive director of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.

The nonpartisan Learning Policy Institute reports about 40 states track graduation rates extended past four years.

But South Carolina is not among them.

The Education Oversight Committee is calling for South Carolina to do the same in its annual school report cards – starting next school year.

Then these rates could start factoring into school report card ratings by the 2023-2024 school year – although the four-year rate would still be considered “on-time” graduation.

“That really is the purpose of accountability, is to incentivize schools to really focus on behaviors that help students earlier, so that’s really part of the purpose is that if you weave that into an accountability system, hopefully schools will help those students that it takes them an extra year,” Yow said.

The committee actually wants to expand this past a graduation rate into what they’re calling a student success rate.

That would incorporate students who receive their GEDs within five years of beginning ninth grade, as well.

But they need to see if that would be OK under federal guidelines.

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