Sumter County test scores are improving, but lag well behind the state

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Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Sumter County students’ test scores are largely improving, but are well behind their South Carolina counterparts.

On Monday, the Sumter County School Board reviewed scores from the 2023 SC Ready test, End of Course (EOC) tests, and Career Readiness tests.

The SC Ready results showed improvement in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations in English, science, and math, but were still lagging behind the state average.

Scores in Algebra 1 and Biology 1 dropped, as did career readiness.

The results triggered a mixed response from the board.

District 1 Board Member Daniel Palumbo questioned any celebration of the gains.

“The state is horrible, but we’re not even close. I mean 4.5 percent increase is not, we shouldn’t be excited about,” he said.

Meanwhile, District 7 Board Member Shery White conceded there’s work to be done, but acknowledged the improvement.

“I do feel we need to emphasize and recognize there has been improvement,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. William Wright Jr. said he is “pleased” with the improvement, but “not satisfied” with where the district is.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said in an interview with WIS.

Wright credited new techniques and a return to the classroom post-pandemic for helping spur the grade improvement.

“Having a full year back in the classroom with face-to-face instruction has helped and I think it will continue to help,” he said.

However, Wright said some students aren’t getting the face-to-face instruction in science and math. He said the district is relying in part on virtual teachers as the state grapples with a teacher shortage.

The district reports needing 76 teacher positions filled.

“It doesn’t meet the virtual teachers aren’t filling a very necessary gap in for us. I want to be clear about that. But, we all know that the best form of education still comes from that teacher that’s in the classroom every day. Particularly with areas like math and science because of the interactive way of learning that’s required for those subjects,” he said.

District leadership is actively studying employee salaries to address recruitment and retention.

Wright said he is looking for a 6 to 8 percent score improvement next year.

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