Community, business leaders join in to tackle achievement gap in Tri-County schools

Published: Jan. 29, 2015 at 10:03 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A new report, released by TCCC, or The Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, finds at least 20 percent of area students won't graduate on time.

The collaborative, chaired by Intertech Group CEO Anita Zucker, is a collection of business, community and academic leaders committed to bridging the achievement gap in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester County schools.

"We really selected a group of people that would come and work and help us develop benchmarks," Zucker said.

"The only way to create change is to involve everyone."

The group released its first education report Thursday, using regional data on kindergarten readiness, reading and math proficiency scores for third and eighth grades, high school graduation rates, and post-secondary enrollment and completion.

Among the key findings:

- One in five third graders are not proficient in reading

- One in five students do not graduate high school on time

- One in four third and eight graders do not meet proficiency standards in math

For Zucker, the real work starts long before grade school.

"A child from 0-3 who grows up in a lower income family is likely to hear 30 million less words," she said.

"That time of approaching kindergarten readiness is absolutely the most critical."

Research from the 2015 TCCC report was compiled using standardized test results, along with data from the State Board of Education.

Findings also include factors beyond a student's control, like race and socio-economic conditions.

From 2009 to 2014, the report says the increase in average 3rd grade reading scores was seven times higher for White students than for Black students.  Those scores were eight times higher for students with a higher income.

TCCC is scheduled to meet again in the fall.  By then, leaders are expected to create networks, and present ideas to begin the improvement process.

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