Like most of the rest of the districts in the state, Bamberg School District 1's scores on the 2017 SC Ready and SC Pass tests were disappointing in comparison to the previous year's scores.

Traditionally, Bamberg has held first or second place on the tests, but this year the tests told a different story.

“The test last year was not really to test so much of content as it was a test of a student’s computer skills in some cases, and I think that's sort of what our scores look like,” Bamberg 1 Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting said during the Bamberg School District 1 Board of Trustees meeting.

State law required students to take the tests online for the first time last year. More than half of South Carolina's school districts got waivers to delay testing online, but Bamberg decided to go ahead with it, Schwarting said.

“We decided to bite the bullet, and we paid for it,” she added.

It was especially difficult for third and fourth graders, the superintendent said, noting that it's not developmentally appropriate for them to have to type because they simply don’t have the typing skills.

In addition, children could look at only a small portion of what they were writing, and that was also a drawback, Schwarting said.

But, the state is looking at problems with the tests and the district is making efforts to improve the situation, she said.

Several thousand dollars have been committed to pilot “Engage NY Reading” in third grade to see if the students make strong gains in the curriculum. If they do, then it will be implemented grade by grade.

Also during the meeting, Richard Carroll Elementary School Librarian Becky Proctor reported that she had created a form for parents to use in challenging a book they feel is inappropriate.

This follows the recommendation of the S.C. School Boards Association and will allow a decision to be made quickly by a committee made up of Schwarting and the librarian of the affected school.

In other business, trustees approved a new course, Career Planning and Development, to be taught as an elective. The course will count as a 1/2 credit.

Also during the meeting:

  • Jessica Lewis, a third grade teacher, received a $300 math grant that will be used for supplies, it was reported.
  • The canned food drive at RCES collected 4,700 items, it was announced.
  • The Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School Junior Red Cross collected 24 pints of usable blood and is planning another blood drive on Dec. 5, it was reported.
  • Coach Butch Crosby celebrated his 100th win on Oct. 6 in the last home game against Calhoun County High School, it was announced.
  • Seventh grader Elaney Sanders won second place and seventh grader Reagan Johnson won Honorable Mention in visual art at the State Fair, it was announced.
  • Emmy Ulmer, another district student, took second place in the Heavyweight Barrow Show at the Orangeburg County Fair, it was announced.

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