Large percentage of South Carolina students are failing basic subjects, test results show

ROCK HILL, S.C. — There are major concerns among educators in South Carolina after newly released test results show that large percentages of students in local counties are failing basic subjects like biology and US history.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials warned that time away from the classroom could impact students negatively, and some educators tell Channel 9 that these recent test results are proof of just that.

“Could we have done better? Absolutely. Is there always room for improvement? Yes,” said Lindsay Machak with the Rock Hill School District.

Machak spoke about the end-of-course test results from last school year which measured performance in high school core courses. Of the nearly 1,300 Rock Hill students tested, 48% failed biology and nearly 39% failed in US history.

Other school districts struggled too. In Chester County, more than 53% of students failed biology, and 59% failed US history. In Chesterfield County, 53% of students failed biology and more than 50% failed US history. (You can check to see how your local district performed at this link.)

In Rock Hill, leaders say COVID-19 was a major reason behind the scores.

“Covid hit us hard in ways we didn’t see coming. We had a lot of kids that were out and absent from the classroom due to covid reasons, but we also had teachers who were out,” Machak said. “In a subject like biology, you aren’t able to get that experiential knowledge.”

On the other hand, Clover Public Schools managed to perform better than other districts, and leaders there told Channel 9 that their pandemic policies made the difference.

“Our two key priorities were safety and ability to be in the building,” said Bryan Dillon with Clover Public Schools. “That allowed our students to have more time together to work through the curriculum, abilities, and maximize their performance.”

The South Carolina Department of Education told Channel 9 that there could be a reason why biology and US history stood out in the scores.

“Teachers have been transitioning to new standards in these subjects, and there is a significant amount of materials to cover,” said Katrina Goggins with the state.

In response, Goggins said the state created a $1.5 million partnership with the SCDE and the SC State Library to give students 24-hour access to tutors in any subject at no cost.

You can sign up for the tutoring service at this link.

Rock Hill says it’ll use extra tutoring and reviews to try and close the gap and catch those students up in key areas.

The Chesterfield County School District said in a statement: “We have established goals and action steps to include: increased classroom observations by principals, principal-teacher one on one conferencing about teacher quality, student growth and needed support. We also have data-driven professional development for teachers and school administrators scheduled. All in an effort to provide ongoing, quality instruction to each student, which ultimately leads to student growth in the focused content areas.”

The state says that districts won’t face any penalties for low test scores, adding that the scores are factored into their report card ratings.

(WATCH BELOW: State education leaders release performance grades for CMS)

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