Joanna Woodson, Evaluation & Assessments

Enrollments School District 56 is growing. These are the Sept. 24 enrollment numbers: MS Bailey, 98 students; Clinton Elementary, 609; Eastside Elementary, 485; Joanna Woodson Elementary, 319; Clinton Middle School, 712; and Clinton High School, 875; Total = 3,000 without 4K and 3,098 with 4K. The district’s Aug. 20 enrollment was 2,949 with 4K.

Joanna Woodson shines: Literacy, flex seating, fund-raisers are ’18-19 projects


Students at Joanna Woodson Elementary are getting a real-life experience in the competitive world of college sports through a partnership with InnerSole.

A charity supported by University of South Carolina and USA Olympics women’s head basketball coach Dawn Staley, InnerSole provides shoes to children. At Joanna Woodson Elementary School, students win shoes in an academics, attendance and behavior competition. The students also will have a chance to attend a USC women’s basketball game, and interact with Coach Staley.

JWES Principal Eddie Marshall and others brought the District 56 Board of Education up to date on the school’s initiatives during the Sept. 24 board meeting.

“Our classes have a competition versus each other, and the classes with the highest points receive new tennis shoes,” Marshall said. “We had our kickoff two weeks ago.”

The board heard about JWES’s renewed emphasis on reading and literacy education, and received an update on the after-school program. Students staying after school get 45 minutes of homework time, 45 minutes of instruction and 45 minutes of activity. There are 30 children enrolled, at a cost to parents of $25 per week. 

By emphasizing early literacy, Marshall said the school has seen a reduction in the performance gap between third grade and fourth grade. The state this year has implemented a policy of retaining third graders who do not meet performance markers in reading and language arts.

“This is brand new,” Marshall said. “We’re all learning as we go.”

A $1,500 Dollar General grant enhanced classroom libraries, and made it possible for teachers to acquire books of interest to male students, who traditionally lag behind female students in reading for enjoyment and information.

Students in some classes enjoy “flex” seating, in place of traditional desks. Businesses and individuals have stepped forward to help the school reach 100% of a fund-raising goal for library books. Art supplies were supplemented by a fund-raiser, and fifth graders participated in an activity for International Peace Day.

JWES is raising money to benefit Pamplico Middle School in North Carolina as the school recovers from Hurricane Florence. 

The school leadership has identified Individualized Instruction as a problem of instructional practice. To deal with the problem, the school has implemented literacy level instruction and guided math. Students can receive help inside the school, and from outside instructors to meet grade level markers.

Marshall said of his school, “We’re the stars, and we’re not the stars for just any reason. We like to shine.”

District 56 is awaiting the lifting of a state embargo on test data before announcing the latest round of assessment results. 

“Our students are achieving,” said Brenda Schrantz, assistant superintendent for instruction, based on a preliminary look at the data.

The district is exceeding the state average in 6th grade English Language Arts and math, but is concerned about a “dip” in performance as students transition from 6th to 7th grade. The district has moved a reading coach to Clinton Middle School to model “what does good reading instruction look like,” Schrantz said.

District 56 has received state funds to hire another SRO (school resource officer), and that position will be split between Clinton Elementary and Eastside Elementary. The officer will vary the hours he/she spends at each school, so a potential intruder won’t be able to tell exactly when the officer is on duty inside the school building.

Money for these new officers is paid directly from the State Department of Education to the law enforcement agencies. In District 56’s case, those agencies are the Clinton Police Department for in-city schools and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office for Joanna Woodson Elementary School.


O’Shields receives position evaluation


The Board of Trustees (Board) of Laurens County School District 56 (District) met in executive session to conduct Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields’ annual performance evaluation on Sept. 24.  

The evaluation, which is required by Board policy and the District’s employment contract with the Superintendent, focused on the goals mutually agreed upon between the Superintendent and Board.

At this meeting, the Board publicly expressed its strong approval of Dr. O’Shields’ performance and his commitment to the children in the District, as well as to staff and the community at large.  

A statement said, “Dr. O’Shields has worked very effectively this past year with all stakeholders to ensure that the District's budget priorities at all levels remain focused on promoting student achievement and working to ensure that standards of excellence are expected in all areas, academic and extra-curricular. Under Dr. O’Shields’ leadership this past year, test scores in many important areas improved, teacher retention rates stabilized and the Science Olympiad team was, once again, an award winning program. District 56 facilities are in excellent condition and well- maintained, even as further improvements remain a priority, and the District continues to be in a financially solid position.  

“Dr. O’Shields is a long-time member of our community and his relationships with teachers, parents, government leaders, and businesses are invaluable to our collective efforts to ensure that all students in our school system have top-quality educational opportunities. Dr. O’Shields truly is a leader in our community.”

In light of Dr. O’Shields’ commendable performance evaluation, the Board acted to extend his contract for one additional year, or through June 30, 2021.  

Additionally, in acknowledgment of his continued service and dedication to our students and community, the Board provided Dr. O’Shields with a 2% salary increase, which is the same increase our certified teachers received this school year. The Board also agreed to make an annual contribution to an annuity of Dr. O’Shields’ choice, in the amount of 5% of his salary by December 31, 2019, increasing by 1% each year thereafter.

“The Board is pleased with the top-notch leadership that Dr. O’Shields continues to provide, commends him for his tireless dedication to our students and community, and looks forward to working with him for many years to come,” said James D. Barton, Board Chair (September 28, 2018, statement).



Laurens County School District 56


End of Course Examination Program, WIN results 

are announced for Clinton and Joanna students


State assessments provide school districts one tool to measure students’ progress towards meeting college and career readiness standards. 

At the high school level, there are numerous data points that allow districts to analyze students’ progress towards college and career readiness including but not limited to graduation rate, drop-out rate, career ready certificates and assessments, End of Course exams, SAT, and ACT. One state assessment that monitors students’ success in high school gateway courses is the End of Course Examination Program (EOCEP).  

The EOCEP is administered to all students at the end of Algebra I or Intermediate Algebra, English I, Biology I and US History and Constitution. District 56 utilizes these assessment results to guide professional development focus areas and identifying student needs. An announcement said, “Laurens County School District 56 will not be satisfied with EOCEP test scores until all students meet the college readiness benchmark.”

Over the last two year, South Carolina has been working to realign the scores for EOCEP to match college readiness standards. 

During the 2016-2017 school year, the Algebra I and English I EOCEP tests were realigned to college readiness benchmarks; and this past school year, 2017-2018, Biology I EOCEP went through the same process to ensure that the scores aligned to the college readiness standards. 

Laurens County School District 56’s EOCEP highlights:

-- The percentage of students passing the 2017-2018 EOCEP in Algebra I/Intermediate Algebra, English I, and US History and Constitution increased from last year’s scores. 

-- Algebra I/Intermediate Algebra scores increased 10.5% points compared to the state’s loss of 6.7%. 

-- Even with the realignment of Biology EOCEP scores, Clinton High School had 74.3% of students scoring a D or higher compared to the state’s average of 68%.

-- 100% of Clinton Middle School’s English I students met the college readiness benchmark.

One measure of career readiness is the completion of the WIN Ready to Work Career Readiness Assessment. This assessment is administered to all 11th grade students to determine student achievement in three key subject areas: Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. In addition, the assessment includes a soft skills component that provides information about a student’s skills in the following five areas: Cooperation with Others, Resolving Conflicts and Negotiation, Solving Problems and Making Decisions, Observing Critically, and Taking Responsibility for Learning. Based on a student’s responses, students may earn one of the following four certificate levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

Laurens County School District 56’s WIN highlights:

-- The percentage of students earning a certificate for Laurens County School District 56 was 85.3%, which is higher than the state’s average of 83.4%.

-- The percentage of students earning the highest level of a certificate (platinum) for Laurens County School District 56 was 2.6%, which is above the state’s average of 2.5% of platinum certificates. 




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