COLUMBIA — Four Newberry County schools are recipients of the Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards for the 2013-14 school year, Education Superintendent Dr. Mick Zais announced.
Little Mountain Elementary, Mid-Carolina High, Newberry High and Pomaria-Garmany Elementary were each announced as recipients. Altogether, the S.C. Department of Education recognized 592 schools and career centers for general performance, closing the achievement gap, or qualifying in both categories.
“Congratulations are in order for these Palmetto Gold and Silver Award winners that were selected by South Carolina’s Education Oversight Committee,” said Zais. “At the same time, I’m concerned about an award system that identifies 53 percent of our schools as the top performers. That is why I support a single accountability system recognizing student growth and performance that is clear and transparent to parents, teachers, and the public.”
The Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards program, founded in 1998, recognizes schools for general performance and closing the achievement gap. Within those two categories, a school may be awarded either the gold or silver designation. This is the sixth year that closing the achievement gap has been included as part of the program.
The original Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards program selected schools for award on the basis of the combined end of year general performance by all students and the general growth during the school year by all students.
Schools were selected based on having high Absolute or Growth ratings or a combination of Absolute and Growth ratings. They were also selected if their growth indices were high. The designation of a Gold or Silver award was dependent on the level of general performance by students in the school. The Gold awards were for the highest performance levels.
The criteria for the Palmetto Gold and Silver Award for Closing the Achievement Gap are based on exceptional performance or exceptional growth in performance in a school by at least one of the targeted historically underachieving groups of students on the state accountability tests (PASS) for elementary and middle schools and in graduation rate for high schools.
Regarding schools with steady growth, only schools that had a growth rating of good or better for two consecutive years could receive a Palmetto Silver Award.
According to the awards criteria, they will be established for schools attaining high levels of absolute performance, for schools attaining high rates of growth, and for schools making substantial progress in closing the achievement gap between disaggregated groups.
They may also include such criteria as student attendance, teacher attendance and graduation rates.
Other criteria says that special schools for the academically talented are not eligible to receive an award unless they have demonstrated improvement and high absolute achievement for three years immediately preceding.
Of the award recipients, only 65 schools were awarded the gold designation for both general performance and closing the achievement gap.
Approximately 19 percent of this year’s recipient schools are also classified as high poverty, meaning that over 90 percent of their students receive Medicaid and/or Free or Reduced Meals.