CHESTERFIELD — Six Chesterfield County schools have earned cash awards recognizing academic achievement, student academic improvement and closing achievement gaps in 2008.
The Palmetto Gold and Palmetto Silver awards program was created by the Education Accountability Act of 1998. The program now includes two parts – recognition for general school performance as well as progress in closing achievement gaps between groups of students.
Chesterfield High School earned gold awards in both areas and Cheraw High School won silver awards in both areas. Long Middle School, McBee Elementary School, and McBee High School won silver awards for general school performance, while Ruby Elementary School earned a silver award for closing achievement gaps.
Chesterfield County School District Superintendent Dr. John E. Williams said that he is excited with schools receiving Palmetto Gold and Silver awards in the district and that it is indicative of the accomplishments being made in improving student performance.
“I know first hand the amount of hard work that is going on in our schools to help our students succeed,” Williams says. “Our students, teachers, and administrators are to be congratulated. It is significant that the state recognizes our improvements as well in the form of these Palmetto awards.”
Williams added that the monetary awards will be especially beneficial to the winning schools in light of the recent budget woes that are affecting the state’s schools.
Schools received general awards for overall performance based on their 2008 state report card’s absolute and improvement ratings. These ratings are determined by PACT scores for elementary and middle schools. For high schools, the ratings are based on Exit Exam results, graduation rate and percentage of students passing end-of-course tests.
Schools recognized for general performance receive an award flag, a certificate, a congratulatory letter from State Superintendent of Education Dr. Jim Rex and a portion of state funds earmarked for the program. The financial award is determined by factors including the type of award received, student enrollment, student attendance and teacher attendance. This year’s awards are being reduced because of state budget cuts. Schools will receive notice of awards totals in the near future.
Schools received closing the achievement gap awards based on academic gains made by students who fall into four subgroups -- African American students, Hispanic students, students participating in federal free- or reduced-price lunch programs and students with non-speech disabilities. The state’s Education Oversight Committee set awards criteria.
Elementary or middle schools qualify for a Gold award if at least one of these subgroups meets or exceeds high-achieving student scores in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. A Silver award is given if at least one subgroup meets end-of-year high performance in ELA or mathematics or shows exceptional achievement growth.
High schools may receive a Gold closing the gap award if the graduation rate of at least one subgroup meets or exceeds the statewide graduation rate of historically high-achieving students. A Silver award means at least one subgroup’s graduation rate meets or exceeds the rate needed to meet the state’s graduation goal of 88.3 per cent by 2014.
Schools recognized for closing achievement gaps receive an award certificate, a congratulatory letter from Dr. Rex and $1,200 for the Gold award and $1,000 for a Silver.