CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - On Monday, the State Department of Education released a list of schools that the state identifies as needing support and improvement.
This comes after the release of state report cards that showed schools across the state were “unsatisfactory” or “below average” including several schools in the Lowcountry.
As part of the state’s new school improvement designations, information from the Department of Education said the state will add financial and teaching support for schools that are in the bottom 10% of all schools or have a graduation rate below 70%.
Nine Charleston County School District schools are on the state’s improvement and support list: North Charleston High School, St. Johns High School, R. B. Stall High School, Chicora Elementary, Edmund A. Burns Elementary, Mary Ford Elementary, Morningside Middle School, North Charleston Elementary, and Greg Mathis Charter High School.
Most of the schools are concentrated in the North Charleston area.
“It also let us know that we have to do more,” said John Cobb with CCSD. “We have to do more to support the school. We have to do more to support the students. Each school individually needs something different and until we find the root cause of what each school needs we cannot move on.”
Four of the schools flagged by the state as needing more help were also on the same list last year. CCSD officials said they are working on a solution and already have one in place for several schools.
Cobb is part of the district’s solution and came into his role last year as an executive director of Coaching and Mentoring to add mentorship for district leaders and principals.
He said after one year of making changes, they are already seeing results, just not yet in academics.
“Specifically, I can speak to Burns [Elementary] where they had more process and procedures in place, more staff that’s returning," he said."That’s a big thing when you talk about a school in need. They have to have that consistent administration and consistent staff to get some traction in academics. Culturally and processing and procedures, we have seen the change. We haven’t seen the change in academics as of yet. Culture is going to come first and academic will follow.”
South Carolina Department of Education’s School Improvement Framework documents said the state’s vision is to have every student graduate high school and be prepared for success in college, careers, and citizenship. It also said that every child who does not graduate from high school or enters the work force unprepared is at risk of not being a contributor to the state’s progress. Stating that it is more than an economic issue, but a personal and moral issue.
This is part of the state’s new Every Student Succeeds Act.
The state documents also said that the majority of underperforming schools remain underperforming and are immersed in a continuous cycle of planning that has not resulted in performance, something CCSD School Board Member Cindy Bohn Coats also said she has witnessed within the district.
As part of the state’s new school improvement designation, the state will first diagnose what is wrong with the school and target what needs to be improved. They will then do an external review and period. That will be followed by setting goals and implementing the plan.
“It takes time, yes. It takes time and purposely planning and purposeful implementation of the plan,” Cobb said.
Cobb said despite needing improvement and support, there are good things happening in the building.
“Don’t be confused everything in the building is gone array, everything is not working. We have some things that are working in the school,” Cobb said.