Hammond Hill Elementary School was formally recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School at an Aiken County Board of Education meeting Tuesday.
The Blue Ribbon program honors public and private school at all levels that have demonstrated consistently high levels of academic achievement.
Hammond Hill has for several years scored “excellent” on school report cards and recorded an “A” on the State Department of Education’s new assessment in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education.
The ETV program “In Our Schools” will feature Hammond Hill in a segment that will air Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Board members and others in attendance at the meeting saw a video that captured the announcement of the national award at the school earlier this month. The film was produced by Courtney Vaughan, a student at Augusta State University.
She is the daughter of Hammond Hill principal Janet Vaughan.
In an earlier interview, Vaughan said, “It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the principal of Hammond Hill Elementary. The teachers are amazing and provide outstanding instruction at a high level of rigor and engagement.”
In other business —• King Laurence, the school district’s associate superintendent of instruction, presented an update of recent test data. Scores on standardized PASS test at the third-grade level, for example, continue to indicate that an achievement gap continues to persist between white students and those sub-groups of minority and low-income students.
In comparison with the state scores, Aiken County students had been ahead of the state average on the state’s exit exam, but Laurence said that the state scores had caught up this year.
On the end-of-course exams, a total of 82.6 percent passed the math exam, 75.6 percent the English test and 82.1 percent the Biology I exam.
Like other districts statewide, Aiken County freshmen did not score well on the history exam, with just 46.3 percent passing the test.
The school district is implementing the new Common Core academic standards this year. School Board vice chairman Ray Fleming asked if that would create more of a challenge for teachers as they transition from the existing state standards to the more nationally-developed curriculum.
“Are we creating a dual system?” Fleming asked.
No, “but it is hard,” Laurence responded. “I talked to principals about that last week. We believe the rigor and complexity of Common Core standards will prepare our students more. Language arts standards are not that different from the current standards, but are at a more rigorous level. Our direction for teachers is to move ahead with Common Core.”
• Duane Cooper, a staffer with the S.C. School Boards Association gave an update on the S.C. General Assembly.