Mixed Results in Low Country School Report Cards

Report cards are in, but not for the students. It's the schools themselves. South Carolina's rankings for every school in the state came out yesterday, and in Beaufort County, there were mixed results. There was improvement over the last year, but the same schools that needed the most work still do, and the school that ranked highest stayed ahead of the pack.

Hilton Head High School's got a grade worth putting up on your parents' refrigerator. For the second year in a row, it's the only school in the district scoring an "excellent." "I know that teachers will be excited because it certainly is affirmation that what they're doing is paying off," said Paulette Walker, the assistant principal. "Certainly if students don't appreciate it now, they will appreciate it when they apply to college or apply in the workforce."

Walker attributes part of their success to a new computer tutoring program available to every student, and to community support. Despite its score of excellent, Hilton Head High School still sees room for improvement, and educators think they've got goals that are certainly attainable. At the top of their list, an average SAT score of 1100.

But while Hilton Head's focusing on the little things, other schools in Beaufort County have a lot more work to do. Whale Branch Elementary and Middle Schools both scored "unsatisfactory." "We've all got the same finish line, but we have different starting places, and their starting place was a little behind some of the others," said Deputy Superintendent Edna Crews.

The school district says it isn't a problem the schools have to fix by themselves. "What we've got to focus on is looking at what's going right at some places and seeing if it can be replicated at others, and our principals are having these kinds of conversations in our leadership team meetings," said Crews.

While Beaufort County saw moderate improvement overall, other counties in the Low Country didn't fare as well. Jasper County and Hampton County were overall "unsatisfactory," but Hampton County District 1 did come it with a rating of "good."

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com