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Charleston County schools switching language arts, math curriculum

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is replacing its what its chief academic officer called outdated curriculum.

The district’s plan to replace its English Language Arts program is still in the pilot phase, Chief Academic Officer Karolyn Belcher said. But the new math coursework is already up and running in all schools.

Belcher says this new curriculum is more grade-level ready and more demanding for kids. In math, Belcher says the new program they switched to has been evaluated nationally by a couple of organizations and is considered top-tier curricula.

“It forces kids to deal with college and career-ready standards demand, not only procedural fluency like knowing their times tables but also being able to understand the concepts behind the math and how it applies to real-world situations like the design of a building,” Belcher says.

In the state report card released, 47 percent of CCSD students met or exceeded standards in math. That’s compared to the 37 percent average across the state. In ELA, 49 percent of CCSD students met or exceeded standards. That number is 43 percent across the state.

“I think all of us were worried that this group of students from last year and moving into this year would be behind, you know, at large,” Belcher said. “And that doesn’t seem to be as true, we don’t have that - we have places where we really need to focus our energies. But it is not a system-wide COVID gap.”

With the ELA curriculum, Belcher adds they’re looking at some of the states that are ahead of South Carolina.

“Louisiana Achieves has some rated curriculum,” Belcher says. “Ed Reports is a nationally recognized curriculum rating agency looking at those top tier curriculum, working with the state, which I think is doing tremendous work focusing on the science of reading. They’re going to provide extra support for our Palmetto literacy schools, tier three and tier two, by requiring something called letters training. And that’s really about the foundations of the science of reading. What does it mean to teach phonics well, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and reading fluency.”

Belcher adds by going to one curriculum system-wide – it’s going to allow a lot more consistency and be able to go deeper at the central level.

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