There’s more to the story

Published 5:27 pm Monday, September 12, 2016

Statewide school performance grades were released last week, and some of the scores for Beaufort County schools may have been shocking to the general public.

A handful of schools received “D” grades, fives schools received a “C,” two received a “B” and only one school was given an “A.” By the looks of it, Beaufort County’s schools are either average or below average and have a lot of improving to do.

Although this is how it appears on the surface, it’s not a completely accurate picture. There’s more to the story.

Assessing a school’s performance based on testing results and subsequently compiling that data into numerical results is the easiest and most uniform way to do an assessment at the state level. However, it is nearly unavoidable to let aspects specific to individual schools fall through the cracks.

It’s similar to test scores and students. If a student scores low on an exam, it may be because he has failed to master the concepts, but it may also be related to poor test taking, a learning problem or a distracting situation.

Just as a test score doesn’t tell the whole story about a student, neither do these numerical data sheets show all aspects of a school.

A better indicator of school performance is growth, according to Dr. Don Phipps, Beaufort County Schools superintendent.

Taking that approach, the majority of schools in the county reported either meeting or exceeding their growth goals for the 2015-2016 year. There were four schools that did not meet growth expectations, but only one of those actually scored in a lower category than the previous year.

Not only that, if one walks into a classroom in Beaufort County on a regular day, it will be bustling with students learning new concepts, led by outstanding teachers who go above and beyond.

Those personal, individual experiences are what really define a school. The numbers only tell part of a school’s story and certainly don’t give a full representation of good work that happens on a daily basis.