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Published on November 22nd, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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SC moves closer to providing equal education for all students

Pictured Bradford Swann, executive director of StudentsFirstSC

House subcommittees issue recommendations to improve underperforming schools; creation of Achievement School District is among proposals.

COLUMBIA, S.C.— One year after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state fails to provide adequate education for all students[1], the subcommittees of the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force – appointed to address the issue of educational equality – released its list of recommendations to close the achievement gap during a meeting today in Columbia. Among the proposals to make the list is the creation of a South Carolina specific Achievement School District—a targeted, statewide district with sole focus on improving South Carolina’s lowest performing schools using existing resources.

Bradford Swann, the executive director of StudentsFirstSC, a South-Carolina-based group that advocates for a quality public education for all students across our state, attended Thursday’s announcement. According to Swann, an Achievement School District would be ideally suited to address the challenges faced by the lowest preforming schools in South Carolina.

“Any plan to improve schools in South Carolina must provide a comprehensive approach that addresses the diverse reasons that some schools struggle to provide an adequate education, and the Achievement School District is one of the most targeted and proven approaches on today’s list of recommendations,” said Swann as he departed from Thursday’s announcement. He continued, “The strength of the Achievement School District comes from its ability to be tailored to each school’s unique circumstances. Teachers and administrators work together with input from parents and community members to inspire learning through increased focus on student-centered approaches that transform the culture of a chronically struggling school.”

The Achievement School District, which sometimes is referred to as a Turnaround or Recovery School District, has a proven track record of success in other states. Two examples, Tennessee and Louisiana, have seen low performing schools make significant strides toward their goal of achieving a top 25 percent ranking.

As a next step, the House Task Force is expected to meet in December to adopt the final report of recommendations.  Once adopted, the report will be used as the basis for the drafting of legislation to be considered by the full House of Representatives when they reconvene in January.

[1] http://sccourts.org/opinions/HTMLFiles/SC/27466.pdf

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