Jasper County School District appeals 'F' grade

sbowman@islandpacket.comAugust 29, 2013 

Jasper County School superintendent Vashti Washington

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The Jasper County School District is appealing its lowest-in-the-state score on federal accountability standards.

In a letter Wednesday, the district asked the S.C. Department of Education to review and recalculate the grade it received on standards that are part of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

In the letter, the school district says the state did not take into account the consolidation of two middle schools and two high schools between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.

It also failed to account for students who left the district for a new state charter school in 2012-13. Those students' scores should have been removed from the 2011-12 data for the comparison to be fair, the letter states.

The district has received back-to-back F's on the federal standards and is the only district in the Lowcountry to receive the failing grade this year. It is one of 10 districts among the state's 82 to receive a failing grade, and one of seven to receive repeat F's.

The letter grades have only been given for two years.

This year, the district scored 27.3 on a 100-point scale, the lowest in the state. The grade is based on schools' scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, High School Assessment Program and other factors.

The state's Office of Research and Data Analysis will review the district's appeal. The office will determine whether the state miscalculated the data or if the data provided by the district were inaccurate, said Department of Education spokesman Jay Ragley. He said it is the district's responsibility to verify all the data before the grades are calculated.

The state received five requests for appeals of the 2012 grades, but Ragley said no scores were changed. The deadline to appeal ends at 5 p.m. Friday, and the state had received five requests as of Thursday afternoon.

The state will issue a response or status update to appeals by Oct. 15, Ragley said.

Superintendent Vashti Washington has said her district's score has "no meaning" and contradicts other awards and measures of progress made by students.

Parents recently rallied over the scores and called for Washington to be fired. But this week, the county Board of Education defended her and said the score was influenced by "bad data."

Ragley said some educators don't approve of rating or grading schools, but most approve of the system.

"We feel this process is transparent, easy to understand and communicates clearly to the public how schools are doing and communicates to educators where schools are doing well and where they need to improve," Ragley said. "It gives good feedback, where the old system just told them whether they met the standards or not."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

Jasper County School District's appeal of its "F" grade on federal accountability standards by Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette

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