Group Say SC Not Meeting Educational Goals

8:54 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- South Carolina schools are failing to make the grade, according to South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.

The group says the state is not meeting its goals when it comes to factors like reading, graduation, and school classifications.

The committee set the 2020 Vision in 2009 which aims for students in the Palmetto State to graduate with the skills needed to compete in the world.  That goal is measured by reading proficiency, on-time graduation, workforce readiness and "at risk" classification.

While there are some improvement the group says it is not enough.

"For example our graduation rate this year was up a tenth of a percent. You know at that rate we'll get up a percent in ten years, and that's simply not acceptable. When our graduation rate is less than 75 percent and we want it to be 95 percent, we can't wait 200 years, "said Neil Robinson, the group's chairman. "We've got to do things that are different. We've got to recognize what the key core curriculum should be, and we've got to be more flexible."

The committee's report said that 2012 Palmetto Assessment of State Standards, or PASS results show only 80 percent of third graders and 70 percent of eighth graders read on their grade level.  The Vision 2020 strives for 95 percent of students in third and eighth grade reading at their grade level.

"Something's not happening that's right because we're losing capability, not gaining it. We've got to change that," said Robinson. "If a child can't read he can't operate a computer, and if you can't operate a computer, you can't drive a UPS truck, you can't work in a Michelin plant, you can't work in a Boeing plant."

The goal also includes 95 percent of students scoring "basic and above" on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP while in fourth and eighth grade.  The committee says the 2011 NAEP reading assessment found 61 percent of fourth graders and 72 percent of eighth graders scored "basic and above."

The study said 74.9 percent of students graduated within four years.  The 2020 Vision goal is for 88.3 percent of students to graduate on time.

The report also said 34 percent of those graduates do not go on to a two or four-year college or technical school.

Herb Johnson with Michelin North America's Director of Community Relations emphasized the importance of education in business, hiring, and community development.  To that end, he says Michelin works with some local schools to improve and encourage reading and education.

"If we can get more children excited about these opportunities the better it is for all of us, and the better it is for the state," said Johnson.

The report also touched on underperforming schools.  The number of school classified as "at risk" did drop with 83 schools earning the label in 2009, 69 in 2010 and 2011, and 61 in 2012.

Still, Robinson says it is not enough.  The  committee wants no schools in the state to have an "at risk" classification. 

Robinson says schools and districts need more flexibility and community involvement.

"Don't just be satisfied when your child leaves in the morning that your child is going to a school that you would like for them to attend. You need to be concerned about the children down the block, down the street and across town. And please be heard. Go to your PTA meeting, go to school meetings and let your elected officials know that you want to see change," he said.

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