Fort Mill schools ranked No. 1 in S.C.

joverman@fortmilltimes.comNovember 25, 2013 

  • School Districts by the numbers:

    District:Fort MillLancaster
    No. of schools1319
    Gifted and Talented25.1 percent11 percent
    Eligible for LIFE scholarship40.5 percent48.3 percent
    Annual drop out rate1.2 percent3 percent
    Teachers with advanced degrees69.4 percent59.8 percent
    Average teacher salary$51,160$47,857
    Student-teacher ratio22.1 to 123.4 to 1
    Per pupil spending$7,789 $8,188

— In a ranking of schools state-wide, Fort Mill finished at the top of the charts last week when the State Department of Education released its annual school report cards.

When ranked by its absolute index, a number derived from the district’s PACT scores, average student performance, end of course performance tests and on-time graduation rate, the Fort Mill School District was the top performing district in the state.

Lexington and Spartanburg were second and third, respectively.

The absolute index also is used to determine the district or school’s absolute rating. Fort Mill School District received an Excellent absolute rating.

Marty McGinn, assistant superintendent of curriculum and human resources, credits the district’s success to the “culture of excellence” in the Fort Mill School District, particularly among the teachers and staff.

“It’s the commitment of the teachers, the administrators and the parents, wanting to at all costs do whatever it takes, and if folks don’t buy into that, they can’t survive here,” McGinn said. “A classroom teacher not willing to work hard is not going to make it. The high expectations, it starts with administration, but the teachers are really committed to that.”

Teachers are aided by frequent professional development opportunities, McGinn said, ranging from quick sessions during planning periods to large conferences or classes that meet frequently throughout the year.

“Our teachers want to learn,” she said. “They thrive on it, instead of just looking at it as another inservice and then they go back to doing the same thing they always do. They stay fresh and enthusiastic about what they do.”

The district’s growth rating, determined by comparing student performance on state tests to previous years, was Good, according to the state rankings. The rating requires improvement each year, which can be a double-edged sword.

“Once you’re really high, it can be hard to move,” McGinn said.

Despite the district’s high achievements, there is always room to improve, she said.

“We still have work to do, to continue to evolve as the needs of kids change and the demands of the world out there they will face change, and to stay current,” McGinn said. “We’re always looking at what we can provide.”

Each of the Fort Mill School District’s seven elementary schools received an Excellent absolute rating and a Good growth rating.

The district’s four middle schools received an Excellent absolute rating. Banks Trail and Fort Mill middle schools both received Excellent growth ratings and Springfield and Gold Hill middle schools received Good growth ratings.

Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools received Excellent absolute and Good growth ratings.

Other districts

Lancaster County School District was ranked 25th in the state when measured against other district’s absolute index. The district received an Excellent absolute and an Excellent growth rating.

Indian Land Elementary School and Indian Land High School received “Excellent” absolute ratings and “Good” growth ratings. Indian Land Middle Schools scored “Excellent” on both absolute and growth ratings.

Jenny Overman •  803-547-2353

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