The Darlington County School District (DCSD) is celebrating superb academic growth gains indicated on state-level standardized tests from the 2022-23 school year. The gains are indicative of teachers’ dedication and hard work to move students into higher achievement categories.
Well documented are the drops in statewide and nationwide student achievement scores since the beginning of the pandemic. Students in DCSD began showing clear signs of achievement gains in the 2021-22 year after a return to a mostly normal schedule. However, the most recent leaps in ELA, Mathematics and Science scores are exceptional. This includes both the number of students reaching the rank of “Meet and Exceeds” for curriculum standards as well as the entire district’s mean scores.
DCSD saw a 10 percent surge in “Meets and Exceeds” from students taking the SC Ready ELA test in 2023 over 2022. This outpaced the state average increase of 7 percent. Likewise, the district’s mean score on the ELA test increased from 511.57 in 2022 to 541.13 in 2023. Such an impressive increase in mean scores indicates growth in the lower “ranks” of achievement.
When considering the student subgroup of “Students in Poverty,” in which nearly 80 percent of DCSD students are categorized, there was also a 10 percent increase in ELA “Meets and Exceeds” achievement along with a mean score increase of 30 points. Both levels of growth for “Students in Poverty” surpassed state averages in those areas.
On the SC Ready Mathematics test, DCSD saw a 3.6 percent increase in the “Meets and Exceeds” category, doubling the growth seen statewide of 1.6 percent. As with ELA, DCSD’s mean Mathematics scores increased by nearly 11 points, outpacing the statewide average growth of 5.2 points.
The “Students in Poverty” subgroup for DCSD saw a 4 percent increase for the “Meets and Exceeds” category for Mathematics, placing them well above the state average, and an impressive 12 point increase over mean scores for 2022 - both doubling the statewide gains in those areas.
On the SC Pass Science test, DCSD students achieving “Meets and Exceeds” increased by 2 percent, which is actually opposite of the statewide achievement on the test. Across the state, there was a 2 percent decrease on the SC Pass Science test. With mean scores, DCSD saw an increase from 1543.6 to 1544.8 while statewide mean scores dropped from 1549.1 to 1547.9. DCSD “Student in Poverty” saw an increase to the “Meets and Exceeds” category of 3 percent, placing them significantly above the state average, while the state’s subgroup for that metric dropped by a percent.
Dr. Tim Newman is encouraged by the growth and contributes the success to the efforts of the school’s teachers, staff, and principals, “While we acknowledge there is plenty more to do in order to reach our goal of maximizing student success, as well as preparing all students for life after high school, the growth indicated by these tests is strong confirmation of the positive direction and hard work of the Darlington County School District’s educators, students and families.”