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How South Carolina Made Significant Educational Progress Over Many Years For the 2012 Harvard Conference: Learning from Improving School Systems at Home.

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Presentation on theme: "How South Carolina Made Significant Educational Progress Over Many Years For the 2012 Harvard Conference: Learning from Improving School Systems at Home."— Presentation transcript:

1 How South Carolina Made Significant Educational Progress Over Many Years For the 2012 Harvard Conference: Learning from Improving School Systems at Home and Abroad Terry Peterson, PhD National Board Chair of the Afterschool Alliance Senior Fellow, College of Charleston Former Education Executive to the SC Governor Former Counselor to the US Secretary of Education

2 There were numerous curricular and standards changes in South Carolina during and immediately before this time period, as well as policy, political and funding changes. So what were some overarching factors contributing to the gains?

3 Five Overarching, Long-term Success Factors 1.LOCAL OWNERSHIP: SC’s educators, parents, and community leaders felt ownership for the reforms 2.HIGHER EXPECTATIONS with HELP: Higher standards coupled with help to teachers, schools and students to reach them and broadening learning opportunities beyond the basics* 3.FUNDING FOR SUCCESS: Special innovation, improvement and incentive funds on top of school foundation funding* 4. ELEVATE EDUCATORS: Simultaneous efforts to elevate the importance of teaching, teachers and principals 5. IMPROVEMENT: Constant focus on continuous improvement *Yet, rural, low-wealth schools struggled with overwhelming needs and lack of resources

4 Overarching, Long-term Success Factor 1: LOCAL OWNERSHIP Statewide buy-in for reform, improved performance, higher standards, change, collegial responsibility and action

5 SC Education Reforms were Built on a Background of Solid Educator and Grassroots Support : A foundation for achieving higher standards and performance was laid in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, when thousands of local and statewide leaders and educators were engaged in developing, passing, funding, and implementing reforms incentivized by a special multi-million dollar school improvement fund (the Education Improvement Act). (http://www.lafollette.wisc.edu/publications/otherpublications/issues-Peterson-SchoolReformSC.pdf) Because of their prior successes, in 1988 and 1990, near the start of the time period being analyzed for the NAEP improvement, SC educators compared to teachers in other states believed that: “…the reform movement has done more to change conditions in the classroom in terms of things like learning climate and working conditions and student achievement. (Virginia Edwards, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching) The Foundation for Advancement for Teaching found: SC teachers compared to teachers in other states gave the “ …best grades in 21 of 55 areas surveyed and high grades in most other areas.” (Greenville Piedmont)

6 Engagement of Educators, the Community, and Families in the 1990’s and 2000’s SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT COUNCILS: Every school has a school improvement council of teachers, parents, community members and the principal, networked together by a statewide school council assistance project. UNIQUE SC INITIATIVE: The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement connects outstanding teachers, school districts and teacher education programs to address teacher quality, supply and demand, and ways to improve teaching and learning. SCHEDULED REVIEWS OF STATE STANDARDS: Starting in 1998 with the SC Accountability Act, a review every four- years of state standards in each academic area includes educators, parents, business and community members to examine them for rigor and relevancy. NETWORKS FOR CHANGE: Many networks for change developed: for example, the Writing Project, High Schools that Work, and the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, and a number of colleges started Centers of Excellence to help with K-12 education reform. REGIONAL SCIENCE AND MATH HUBS: A NSF grant in the 1990’s was critical in starting up regional science and math hubs. Combined with special professional development monies (from the Lottery and Education Improvement Act) they helped local educators with curricular and instructional improvements tied to higher standards. Because the grant was long term, the hubs have creditability and help educators go deeper into the content. CAREER CLUSTERS: Many educators and business and community people are involved in developing curriculum frameworks, professional development and programming around 16 career clusters called for in the SC Education and Economic Development Act of 2005.

7 Overarching, Long-term Success Factor #2 HIGHER EXPECTATIONS & STANDARDS +++ Higher standards coupled with extra help for students to achieve them and teacher support to teach them as well as a wide range of challenging learning opportunities beyond the typical core are one key to success over time.

8 Quarter Century of Simultaneous Efforts to Make Higher Standards “Real, Realistic and Achievable:” Systematically Raising Standards: Quality Counts 2007 gave South Carolina a No. 1 national ranking for standards, assessment and accountability, and in a No. 3 ranking. The 1984 Education Improvement Act : Basic skills standards and assessments “No pass, no play” Beginning of an exit exam for high school graduation Rewarding schools for meaningful gains in achievement and attendance 1998 Education Accountability Act: Grade specific rigorous academic standards New assessments in math, science, social studies and language arts in grades 3-8 An upgraded high school exit exam External review teams and assistance to “unsatisfactory” schools ALSO Provided Tools Periodically to Achieve the Higher Standards PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Serious investments in professional development on core standards FUNDS to Catch Up: for students needing academic assistance to meet standards –e.g., early childhood, afterschool and summer programs

9 Sample Efforts to Broaden Learning and Stretch Students Beyond the “Basics” : ADVANCED PLACEMENT: Made it easier to offer Advancement Placement courses and offer more science and math courses in high schools ACADEMICALLY & ARTISTICALLY TALENTED programs grew, especially in many elementary and middle schools TECH PREP AND SPECIAL VOCATIONAL EQUIPMENT FUNDS helped modernize career opportunities along with the Education and Economic Development Act THE ARTS IN BASIC CURRICULUM program became a national model TARGET 2000, an education act helped put problem solving and critical thinking into the learning equation, starting in the early 1990’s

10 Overarching, Long-term Success Factor #3 Specific State Funding Targeted for Innovation, Improvement and Extra Help

11 Investments Balanced Between State Core Funding and State Targeted Funding for Innovation, Incentives, and Extra Help Over a Number of Years A State formula provided core funding for local schools, but it hasn’t kept up in recent years, especially in rural, low-income communities — (http://sti.clemson.edu/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_det ails&gid=639&Itemid=310 ) Special funding for innovation, improvement, incentives and extra help was provided for most of this time by the special Education Improvement Act and Lottery (but they too have been eroded).

12 Targeted Funding Provided Critical Resources that Are Tough to Set Aside Locally Examples During Some of this Time Period: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Elevating teaching profession statewide through professional development (e.g., tied to new standards), National Board Certification, and the Center for Teacher Recruitment and Retention EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES: (e.g., for at risk four year olds and family literacy) ACCOUNTABILITY: Infrastructure of accountability for continuous improvement (e.g., data collection for and design of school report cards), regular upgrading of standards, Education Oversight Committee, studies of various programs, and as well as assistance at times to low performing schools and districts INNOVATION FUNDS: Individual teachers and principals could apply for funds to implement their own reforms EXTRA HELP: For students to meet standards and the exit exam NETWORKS FOR CHANGE: (e.g., Writing and Arts networks, High Schools that Work) SUPPORT MECHANISIMS FOR CHANGE: (e.g. School Council Assistance Project, college Centers of Excellence, Science and Math Hubs) PROGRESS REWARDED: Money incentives and awards for schools making most progress

13 Overarching, Long-term Success Factor #4 Elevating Educators Simultaneous efforts to raise teacher and principal quality and invest in their development, recruitment and retention

14 Interesting Teacher Dynamics SC RANKED NUMBER 1 IN EFFORTS TO IMPROVE TEACHING: For the past three decades, there were state policy initiatives to systematically increase standards to enter teaching and for stronger teacher preparation, evaluation and professional development---resulting in a No. 1 ranking in the nation for its efforts to improve teaching by Quality Counts (2010). As of December, 2011, South Carolina ranked third in the nation for the total number of National Board Certified Teachers (8,142 teachers). For most of the 2000’s, from primarily Education Improvement Act funds, the state provided up to a $7500 supplement for teachers gaining National Board Certification. The Certification process is seen as both an in-depth professional development opportunity and a reward for becoming a better teacher SOUTHEAST AVERAGE SALARY = RESPECT: For much of the time period being analyzed for this Harvard seminar, there was an understanding that South Carolina teachers would be paid at the Southeast average salary for their help in improving and achieving higher standards. (Note: for decades before this “agreement” and even today, being paid at the Southeastern average was/is perceived by educators in this low-income state as a “standard of respect.”).

15 More Teaching and Teacher Dynamics MORE QUALITY TEACHERS: To attract more quality teachers into shortage fields like science and math and to geographic high need areas, efforts were refined and strengthen in the 1990’s and 2000’s: – Special recruitment efforts to attract highly qualified teachers from other states and a “grow our own” strategy, starting with Teacher Cadets, working with master teachers in South Carolina’s high schools, and now also a Teacher Fellows program and at Clemson University and College of Charleston an initiative to encourage African American males to enter teaching. – Teacher Forgivable Loan Program – Alternative Teacher Certification program, increasingly focused on “career switchers” and in the past ten years with requirements tighten and initial preparation strengthened. REWARDING OUTSTANDING TEACHERS: At various times during this time period, efforts were initiated and funded to try to reward outstanding teachers: – In the mid 1980’s to the early 1990’s teacher and principal performance pay programs were tried but didn’t gain traction. – From 2001 to 2011, the TAP program grew from teachers in 2 schools to 71 schools. The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement. Statewide collaborative of school districts, outstanding teachers, and teacher education programs continually addresses teacher quality, supply and demand, and ways to improve teaching and learning.

16 Overarching, Long-term Success Factor #5 A Continuous Focus on Continuous Improvement

17 School Level Focus: Improvement, Results and Recognition School Improvement Report Cards, increasingly refined, used data to analyze year to year changes on multiple indicators, against comparable schools and against certain standards Rewards and recognition for schools making the largest gains School Improvement Plans developed by Principals with their School Improvement Council 1998 Education Accountability Act provides for up-to-date student, school and district level achievement data that can be used for continuous improvement along with other school level information such as student attendance and teacher credentials.

18 Focus on Higher Standards, Improvement and Recognition by Various State Leaders and State Level Oversight Groups (see: ) For almost 30 years, state level business-education committees officially analyze statewide results; recommend improvements, standards and performance; and set goals (including appropriations recommendations for the Education Improvement Act Fund and Education Accountability Act). The current Education Oversight Committee sets the criteria for the School Improvement Report Card and reports on progress toward state education goals, including state NAEP results. (for example, see:

19 Unfortunately There are Potential Troubling Signs Going Forward NEW IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED: There is a sense that a new statewide consensus for a new education improvement package or platform is seriously needed that can positively impact a wide range of students and with grassroots support. Yet, there currently appears to be a serious division among some key state leaders and many local educators and school boards. ERODING CORE FUNDING: The basic Foundation funding has not kept up or been modernized in recent years. (h ttp://sti.clemson.edu/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&gid=639&Itemi d=310 ) ERODING/COLLAPSED TARGETED INVESTMENTS: During the past couple of years, the targeted state investments for innovation, improvement and change have been badly eroded and “rolled up” or collapsed into general aid during the most recent recession. (Ironically, these funds were created right after the early 1980’s recession and withstood similar attempts at reductions in the 1990’s recession) IMPORTANT EDUCATOR ELEVATION INITIATIVES ERODED: Two key elements that teachers perceive to elevate their profession, the “agreement” to be paid the Southeastern average and to be able to receive a bonus for gaining National Board Certification have been both eroded away recently.

20 A Bright Spot— IF it can be capitalized on Recent studies find strong local interest and support for education reform: STRONG CONSENSUS: Over 100 local SC focus groups reported to the Riley Institute at Furman University a strong consensus among local business, teachers, administrators, parents, school board members and students on a range of educational improvements ( ) STRONG SUPPORT FOR MORE EDUCATION FUNDING: Recent polls by Clemson’s Strom Thurmond Institute find: education is a strong second top issue (after the economy) and a majority of South Carolina citizens are willing to spend more on education, “…even if it means raising taxes.” (http://sti.clemson.edu/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&g id=639&Itemid=310)http://sti.clemson.edu/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&g id=639&Itemid=310

21 CONCLUSION: Simultaneous Grassroots Engagement, Policy Initiatives and Targeted Funding Investments Over a Quarter Century Produced Significant Gains in Education in South Carolina. CHALLENGE: If SC Wants to be Near the Top in Improvement in the Future, New Gains are Essential and It Will Take State and Local Leadership Willing To: 1.Develop a package of new reforms through engaging state and local educators, parents, and leaders so they have ownership of the changes 2.Develop higher and broader standards coupled with help to teachers, schools and students to reach them 3.Provide special innovation, improvement and incentive funds on top of State school core formula funding 4.Create simultaneous efforts to elevate the importance of teaching, teachers and principals 5.Support, broadly measure and highlight continuous improvement

22 “ We start the same but where we land, It’s sometimes fertile soil and sometimes sand.” - Kathy Mattea


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