School starts back in Effingham County in a little more than a week and right now, things are going well for what is widely regarded as one of the best school systems in the southern part of the state.
There’s no question the reputation of the school system has fueled the county’s population boom. That in itself speaks volumes of the schools, that enough people think enough of it to want to move to Effingham in droves.
All of the system’s schools, and as a result the entire system, met the requirements for adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind requirements. Meeting AYP isn’t as easy as it may sound. Test scores, attendance and graduation rates play into the AYP formula. So too do such things as the number of students in certain subgroups getting tested. It’s a complicated and heavily-layered process for schools and school systems to prove they’re meeting AYP.
The graduation rate for the two high schools was 73.2 percent for recent AYP figures. The state’s rate is 71.1 percent, according to the state Department of Education.
Present-day evaluations of schools rely greatly on test scores, from the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests in the elementary and middle schools to the state writing exams, end-of-course tests and graduation tests for the high schools. School system officials dismissed the worry that the schools merely are teaching to tests.
There are other questions for Effingham schools as students, teachers, staff and parents get ready for the school year.
The school system also is about to embark on a controversial move — uniforms in public schools. Parents complained they didn’t know the school board was considering adopting uniforms.
Will the move to uniforms result in kids thinking less about what other kids are wearing — and the ensuing peer pressure that goes along with that — and more about math? That remains to be seen.
During the millage rate hearings, citizens questioned what they got from the school system. The school board takes the bulk of the millage rate, and the school system continues to grow at a steady pace. It’s growing at the rate equivalent to a new school every two years.
Education is an expensive proposition. By all indications, the Effingham school system is delivering on its promise to provide a quality education for all students.