Beaufort News

Riverview students excelling on state achievement tests

Scores for Beaufort County's only charter school on a key achievement test exceeded state averages on a majority of indicators in its first year.

Students at Riverview Charter School scored above the state average on 11 of 15 tests taken as part of the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards in 2010, according to the S.C. Department of Education.

PASS assesses students in grades three through eight in writing, reading and research, mathematics, science and social studies. Riverview only served students through grade five in 2009-10.

The school's best scores were in fourth-grade reading and social studies, with about 92 percent scoring at or above grade level. The school posted its lowest score in third-grade science, with 61 percent performing on grade level.

The state uses PASS scores to rate public schools through annual report cards. The report cards give schools one of five assessments based on a mathematical formula: excellent, good, average, below average or at-risk.

Riverview was among nine Beaufort County schools to earn a "good" rating last year. Two county schools earned "excellent" ratings.

The report cards also compare schools with similar poverty indices, based on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and Medicaid. Riverview has a low poverty index, with about 12 percent of the students tested qualifying for subsidized meals.

Fifteen other public schools in the state have a similar poverty index, according to the Education Department. All of those schools earned "excellent" report card ratings in 2010.

Riverview director Alison Thomas said that because standardized tests scores are a snapshot of student performance on a single day, they shouldn't be used as the only measure of a school's performance. She said data from standardized tests becomes more useful over time, when it can be used to display trends. Now, Riverview only has one year of data.

She said new schools also can be evaluated by other measures, such as student and faculty retention, applicant numbers and survey results.