State places four local schools on priority list

by | December 25, 2018 6:00 am

Last Updated: December 24, 2018 at 11:41 am

Four Colleton County schools were among those identified by the state Department of Education as priority schools.
Bells Elementary School, Forest Hills Elementary School Hendersonville Elementary School, Colleton County Middle School were placed on the state-wide list based on their rating in the school report cards released several weeks ago. That classification will remain in place until 2020.
At the Colleton County School Board meeting on Dec. 18, board member William Bowman II called the results “very unfortunate for our district.”
School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster added, “We all agree with that.”
Based on the rating and following the guidelines established by the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), every school separated by school type — elementary, middle and high school — that falls in the bottom 10 percent of the federal act’s weighted-point index is identified as a priority school.
When the Department of Education issued the school report cards in late November, Colleton Middle School, Bells Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary and Hendersonville Elementary were all given an unsatisfactory rating.
Priority Schools are those that have been classified as being in need of additional support and improvement and are provided with state support, professional development, and access to the South Carolina School Improvement Framework and evidence-based interventions.
They are eligible to receive state technical assistance funds to implement evidence-based interventions to address performance deficiencies.
Professional Learning Opportunities from various department of education offices and state technical assistance funds will also be made available to the school district.
Dr. Foster said that although the county school district can apply for the technical assistance funds, receipt of the financial assistant isn’t automatic.
The specifics of what help will be made available to the Colleton County School District, Dr. Foster advised the board, won’t be known until the school district has its first conversation with the state officials on Jan. 23.
Dr. Foster said it would be up to the school district to identify the priorities that would receive professional development.
The district administrators, he added, have been working with the principals of all the district’s schools to discuss what options are available to improve student achievement, which accounts for 90 percent of the school ratings.
He explained that the conversation involves all the schools because the district does not want to focus all its attention on the under performing schools and let the educational performance in the other schools slide. “We have to maintain performance in those other schools. We have to have our students maintain and grow.”

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