First, let me say this is one issue most real estate agents wish to brush under the rug when the topic arises. However, there is simply no denying the fact that there needs to be improvement within the local area's public school system. The two issues of the greatest concern for the Bluffton area schools are the relatively low PACT test scores and overcrowding. The good news is there are steps being taken to both raise test scores and to reduce the overcrowding in hopes of making the area schools some of the best in the state.
Second, any parent knows good education starts at home. The local schools currently provide the curriculum and staff to offer quality education to anyone who wishes to take advantage of it. It is up to the parents to not only be directly involved with their child's education, but to also become active with the school board when the opportunities become available.
After a few phone calls to members of the Beaufort County School Board, as well as the Assistant Superintendent, I have come to the following conclusions:
- After the No Child Left Behind act was implemented in 2002 each state was allowed to choose their method of testing and scoring guidelines within the parameters set by the national government.
- The state had standards in place prior to the NCLB act which exceeded the national standards in regards to the categories for learning. (Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced)
- Depending on the type of formulation used to compare testing formats from state to state, South Carolina ranks anywhere from 3rd to 8th in the country in regards to rigidity in performance standards.
- The goals set for the newly hired Superintendent, which, as of yet, have not been clearly defined or publicized, will expect rapid action and quick results.
- Reducing overcrowding is the primary concern, which many believe to have the single highest impact (with all else being equal) on learning and test scores.
Without trying to lessen the fact that the test scores need to improve, each of the individuals I spoke to made mention that the state test would reflect higher scores if not for the scales of the categories. However, they also agreed that there is a benefit to setting high standards. The other area for concern among the people I spoke with was the racial and ethnic diversity of the scores. The goal for the district is to have ALL children above the BASIC achievement level by 2009.
PACT testing scores for the 2005-06 school year.
So, this is were we are with the area public schools. A close look at the scores will actually indicate the schools are doing a wonderful job considering the overcrowding and test scale issue. The next post will focus on the newly hired Superintendent, Dr. Valerie Truesdale, and the two new schools being planned for Bluffton.