CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County School District officials are considering three new options to fix their lowest-performing schools.
Those 15 schools have been classified by the school board as “acceleration schools." The district’s goal is to accelerate the rate of academic growth at all 15 of them which were chosen based on their 2018 or 2019 SC Ready school report card rating.
The district is now considering different ways to improve them, one of which is changing the requirements it takes to be a teacher. This would include certain schools not requiring teachers to be fully certified. The district will do this by applying for waivers. Those need to be approved by the school board and the state.
“There’s not going to be a case where your child is going to elementary school, and their teachers aren’t certified,"CCSD board vice chair Kate Darby said. “In Charleston County, we have excellent teachers. I’d say we have some of the best in the country, but, we also have some teachers who have gone a different path. They worked in the business world for a number of years, and they want to come back and teach, and we want to be able to make that process happen faster.”
The district is also looking at applying for two other waivers. One of those would ask for permission to change how teachers are evaluated.
“We definitely want to have an evaluation process," Darby said. "But, this group of principals felt like our current evaluation process can be cumbersome and may take away from the time that those teachers are teaching or the principal is doing what the principal needs to do to help those teachers.”
The third waiver is changing seat-time requirements for students. The details on that are still limited. All the waivers could go before the school board next month for their first vote.
It also comes at a time when the board’s votes on broad-sweeping changes, like this one, may be overturned by state lawmakers. Those legislators announced on Tuesday they are drafting a bill that would retroactively make the school board’s recent votes void.
“We’ve taken a lot of action, again, all to move our schools forward," Darby said. "I have heard members of the delegation say, ‘Oh, some of the stuff you did is fine, but these couple things aren’t.’ They haven’t been specific about what they might take away.”
The 15 schools now considered “acceleration schools” are: Morningside Middle, North Charleston Elementary, Chicora Elementary, Mary Ford Elementary (set to become an early childhood center), Edmund Burns Elementary (transitioning to a Meeting Street School), North Charleston High, Hunley Park Elementary, Memminger Elementary, Sanders-Clyde Elementary, Peppperhill Elementary, Stono Park Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, W. B. Goodwin Elementary, Simmons-Pinckney Middle, and Burke High.