Students’ reading and math skills suffered as a result of the virtual and at-home learning methods used during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an Orangeburg County School District official.

“They are not where we want them to be, but they are progressing there,” OCSD Director of Testing, Accountability and Research Wanda McMichael told trustees during their March meeting.

“We have to realize this is going to be a process. Our kids did not get into these deficits overnight. It is because our kids have been out of school for two years,” she said.

The district is providing support to help students overcome the deficiencies, McMichael said. She believes the students have the potential to get where they need to be, and the district can help by looking at the assessment data.

“I am not satisfied,” McMichael said. “There is a lot more work to be done.”

McMichael said benchmark assessments are used to measure a student’s growth and performance relative to grade level and course achievement expectations.

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She said results can guide classroom instruction and identify individual student needs for intervention. They also guide program effectiveness and professional development opportunities.

The data for the CASE (Collaborative Assessment Solutions for Educators) in English, Language and Arts and Math show student improvement in ELA in grades 3, 6, 7, and 8, with the largest improvement from the first test to the second test in grade 8. There was a drop off in reading proficiency in grades 4 and 5, with the largest drop off recorded in the fifth grade.

In CASE math data, there was growth in grades 4, 6 and 7 in math proficiency, with the greatest growth seen in the fourth grade. The greatest drop off of proficiency was seen in the eighth grade.

CASE testing for science done in the fourth and sixth grades showed student growth.

Testing done for the end-of-course examination program revealed improvements across all tests of English 2, Algebra I, Biology and History.

Measures of Academic Progress reading testing from the fall to the winter exam showed student growth in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grades, with the largest improvement in reading proficiency in fifth grade.

The biggest drop-off in reading proficiency in MAP between the fall and winter test was recorded in the eighth grade.

In the math MAP assessment, student growth was seen in third, seventh and eighth grades, with the greatest improvement in the eighth grade. Drop-offs were seen in second, fourth, fifth and sixth grades, with the largest drop-off in the fourth grade.

“When we look at our data and when we look at projected proficiency, that does not always give us the total picture,” McMichael said. “As we know, our students have been out of school for a couple of years now because of COVID and they have experienced academic loss.”

McMichael said the district has looked at the percentage of students who met their winter growth targets and what children had a positive growth overall.

She said students may have not met their winter targets, but there are indications of growth, which is positive.

She noted data across grades 3 to 8 generally show the majority of students across all grade levels are growing in their MAP English-language arts and math benchmarks.

McMichael said the district has implemented a number of measures to help in academic recovery, such as targeted instruction opportunities for struggling students, summer school opportunities, data coaches to help improve instruction for specific students, and parenting engagement opportunities.

District strategic plan

Trustees unanimously approved a districtwide strategic plan. The plan received input from both internal and external stakeholders.

The plan includes a mission statement, strategic objectives around student learning, and five strategies and parameters with a focus on student educational growth and success.

“Every student matters in decision making,” district Ombudsman Dr. Jesse Washington said.

The plan’s five strategies include:

• Sustaining a culture that ensures collaboration, equity and inclusion.

• Providing high-quality and engaging opportunities through academics, arts, athletics and activities.

• The recruitment, training and retention of highly effective faculty and staff.

• Ensuring stakeholders’ voices are heard and honored.

• Providing high-quality and state-of-the-art facilities for students.

Trustee Peggy James-Tyler praised the work that was done putting the plan together and stressed the importance of treating employees well in order to keep them working for the district.

“We do not want them leaving us, going someplace else,” James-Tyler said. “We get more flies with honey than we can with vinegar.”

Magnet academies

The window for applications is open for the district’s magnet academies until March 14. There have been 100 new applicants to the academies for next school year.

Currently, there are 215 students in the magnet programs at Edisto Elementary, Holly Hill Elementary, Mellichamp Elementary and Marshall Elementary.

More information on how to apply can be obtained by going to The program is open to all third- through fifth-grade students.

In other business:

• Trustees were informed the district saw a decline in COVID cases.

As of March 8, the district had 17 students impacted by COVID with only one student out with the virus. No employees were positive with the virus.

• Trustees were informed the district is reviewing public and survey comments from its recent community meetings regarding its proposed $190 million facility improvement plan. The comments made during the meetings are on the district’s website.

The proposed plan will most likely come before the school board at its April meeting.

• The school board’s revenues for the month of February were $33.2 million and expenditures for the month were $9.4 million, bringing the district $23.8 million in the black for the month of February.

• It was announced March 21 will be a holiday for students, teachers and any employees that are not 240-day contracted employees.

The day is a work day for all employees who work 240 days.

The day was originally scheduled as an inclement weather make-up day, but the district has not had to use any inclement weather make-up days.

• The district recognized students who participated in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. oratory competition held Feb. 28 at Cornerstone Community Church.

Fifth-grade Mellichamp Elementary student Malachi Jean won first place in the competition; Bethune-Bowman Elementary fourth-grader Dilyn Berry won second place and fifth-grade Holly Hill Elementary School student Harlem Brown won third place.

• The district recognized all region and all-state athletes from Bethune-Bowman High School, Branchville High School, Edisto High School, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School, Lake Marion High School, and Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.

The O-W high school boy’s basketball team was also recognized for being named Lower State Champions.

• Trustees recognized Elloree Elementary School’s Aysha Washington as February Rookie Teacher of the Month.

• Trustees recognized Brookdale Elementary School teacher LaCole Raysor as District Employee of the Month.

• Trustees gave unanimous second and final reading approval to the district’s 2022-2023 academic calendar.

• Trustees gave unanimous second and final reading on the district’s policy related to instruction.

• It was reported the district’s March 5 career fair resulted in the hire of 17 new employees. The career fair was held at the Orangeburg County Library and Conference Center.

• The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be live-streamed on the district’s website at

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