Not surprisingly, Warrenville Elementary School Principal Brad Weston is ecstatic, celebrating the “A” grade the school received from the State Department of Education.

The state agency is using a revamped process to comply with federal requirements and has established formal letter grades for the first time.

Warrenville also is designated as a Title I reward school for progress – one of eight schools statewide in this category. The accountability rating at the school moved from 73.8 percent in 2012 to 91.7 this year.

“We’re pretty excited, and I’m thrilled for the teachers and the entire staff and community,” Weston said. “We expected an increase, but not one of this magnitude.”

New Ellenton Middle School (A rating) and Gloverville (B) also were recognized for performance – among the highest-achieving Title I schools in the state. Schools with high levels of low-income students receive that designation at the federal level, qualifying them for supplemental funding.

Gloverville received the award in 2012 and maintained its performance by continuing to meet higher requirements, said Principal Michelle Padgett.

“Our success came from the efforts of our teachers, who really take the time to know their students,” she said, “not just the data and test scores.”

Shunte Dugar just arrived as New Ellenton’s new principal, but served as assistant principal there a few years ago.

School district officials cited a solid performance increase across the county in the High School Assessment Program (HSAP), more commonly known as the exit exam. A total of 85.8 percent of sophomores passed the exam in English/language arts and math on their first try. The district exceeded the state average on both tests.

Silver Bluff High School, which along with Midland Valley High scored a B grade schoolwide, also exceeded the district and the state in the first attempt HSAP performance.

“Also, for Silver Bluff to have the highest passage rate for the math portion of HSAP is phenomenal,” said Principal Collette Johnson.

District officials said that standardized testing results for grades 3-8 demonstrated increases in the number of students who met or exceeded grade-level standards. As in the state overall, math scores declined in all grades except the fifth grade. Some schools showed mixed results.

“Although our PASS scores were not as strong as past results,” Everitt said in a press release, “we will use this information to pinpoint potential weaknesses in our curriculum.”

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.