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Despite test score drops statewide, DD2 mostly above state averages

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 10:01 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2021 at 4:15 AM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Testing data from the 2020-2021 school year reveals a marked loss in learning.

Across the state, scores generally dropped in almost every category. While the numbers are indicative of learning loss, Thad Schmenk, the director of accountability and assessment in Dorchester District Two, says it’s more nuanced than that.

“At the end of the day, what we saw is that across the state our students held up pretty well to our local and like districts,” Schmenk said. “We did have a strength in ELA (English Language Arts) . . . we are above the national means.”

In a presentation to the school board, Schmenk says DD2 maintained its above state average position in many areas.

Still, math scores are particularly concerning. SC Ready math scores dipped double digits in almost every grade, third through eighth. The highest number of passing students came from third grade with 51.7 percent of students. That’s down 13.6 percent from the previous year.

“The state saw some smaller decreases compared to what our district saw, but even with our little bit larger decreases we are still performing way above the state averages, which is encouraging,” Schmenk said.

While last year’s graduation rate hit an encouraging 91.7 percent, career or college readiness was just 67.5 percent.

That number is .2 percent lower than Charleston County School District, but significantly higher than the other districts in the tri-county area. Schmenk says college readiness alone may only be 37.8 percent, but again, some of that data is reflected in changes made because of the pandemic.

“Well of course we would like it to be 100 percent,” Schmenk said. “COVID made it difficult for students to complete some of the internships that we offer, some of the on the job training that we offer that would normally allow some of those students to be considered career or college ready.”

In addition, many colleges waived ACT or SAT scores which encouraged some students to not take the tests at all. Schmenk says the college readiness score requires one of those tests to be complete to be considered college ready.

“The state sets some pretty high standards on what it means to be college or career ready,” Schmeck said.

Schmenk says the scores suggest there’s room for improvement but that the district and its students handled the pandemic fairly well.

One way they’re getting back on track is by re-introducing a new tool that can help track a student’s academic development much more efficiently. The organization the district is using to do the work is NWEA, the same group responsible for the MAP tests used in other districts.

“The suggestions that it’s going to give for our instruction and our pacing guides is really going to help with that catching up,” Schmeck said.

Schmeck says NWEA will be able to compile all of the data from the various tests students take all year long and feed development data directly to teachers almost instantly.

NWEA is already in use this year.

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