SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A big move for a small district is paying off. Spartanburg County School District 3 combined two under-performing middle schools into one.

School officials said combining both middle schools’ resources led to students having higher scores in English and Language Arts, Mathematics and an overall higher ranking in their students’ performances.

“Our middle school is performing in the top three of middle schools in Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee Counties,” said Dr. Julie Fowler.

“Where we were previously at the middle to the bottom of that list,” said Windy Hodge, director of academics.

What is now Clifdale Middle is a combination of faculty and students from Cowpens Middle School and the Middle School of Pacolet.

“Never did we see both of our middle schools really reach their full potential, that we knew our students were more than capable of reaching,” said school principal Max Deaton.

A referendum was passed before the 2021-2022 school year.

Hodge said they have been seeing improvements since the middle school opened three years ago.

“We did see the scores improve some, it was a slight increase. The exciting thing is that each year we have been able to see an increase every year,” she said.

Deaton said being under one roof gives the students more time and instruction.

“Our students have 100 minutes of math and ELA every day, so we weren’t able to do that when we were two separate schools,” he said.

It also gives teachers a chance to work together, according to the principal.

“They get to have that feedback from each other on how the students are doing, what worked well in one classroom, well let’s try it in this classroom,” he said.

Superintendent Julie Fowler said each middle school had a rich history. With this change, she said the faculty, students and communities were able to come together.

“They were part of the decision making in the school’s name, in the school mascot, and just really were encouraged to write the new chapter,” said Fowler.

Now, the middle school is on the right track to even higher scores.

“There’s already exciting results that we’re seeing, Clifdale has even more of an instructional focus this year then they did last year,” said Hodge.

“What is going on at Clifdale Middle School is excellent, those students are receiving an excellent education,” stated Fowler.

School officials said the middle school here is two points away from going from a good report card rating to an excellent one.

Students will take a mid-year assessment in December.

The district said the middle school has also seen more success with athletics and performing arts.

Fowler said this improvement is all thanks to the students, faculty and communities hard work.