PSTA statement on proposed revisions to state accountability system

November 15, 2021

Earlier today, the Education Oversight Committee announced proposed changes to the state’s accountability system for school report cards. As the largest association for professional educators in South Carolina, Palmetto State Teachers Association applauds these proposals as an important step toward the creation of a more well-rounded accountability system that more accurately measures and reports student achievement.

As noted in our association’s 2022 Legislative Agenda, South Carolina has failed over the past six years to fully realize the opportunity presented by the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to utilize broader measures of student performance for accountability purposes. However, today’s proposals move our state closer to a more comprehensive reporting of success for multiple student groups. The proposal to count student attainment of a South Carolina Employability Credential in the “College and Career Readiness” indicator for high school report cards will ensure our school ratings better reflect the achievements of all learners, including students with disabilities that may not be working in a traditional diploma track. Additionally, the proposed revisions to the “School Quality Indicator” will give a more holistic look at school performance through inclusion of data on school safety, student learning environments, and educator working conditions as evaluated by our state’s professional educators.

Collectively, these actions by the Education Oversight Committee will provide our state with a more robust metric for evaluating school performance than what is possible in a system that is currently overly reliant on results from high-stakes, one-time tests. However, there are still more steps that need to be taken to further enhance our accountability system, starting with improving the quality of the assessments taken by students. Currently, the tests used for state accountability rely heavily on low-quality multiple choice items and provide little to no meaningful diagnostic feedback to inform instructional practice and decisions. In addition, all of our state assessments are one-time in nature, inhibiting their ability to accurately report student achievement and growth over time. South Carolina should look to move in the direction of states like Louisiana, which has placed a cap on the amount of instructional time that can be lost to assessment while developing a series of formative assessments that provide a more holistic view of student achievement and growth than is currently possible under the South Carolina accountability system.

While today’s announcements by the EOC will improve our state’s accountability system, those gains will not be fully realized without a matching commitment in the General Assembly to ensure adequate accountability requirements for any school receiving public funds. An effective accountability system provides transparency to ensure every child has access to the education they need and deserve, which is why the system must continue to include all schools funded by taxpayer dollars.