If you want to see great things happening in South Carolina, stop by your local school. You will be inspired by the professional educators, enthusiastic students and culture of learning surrounding you.
Computer labs are full of students taking online classes through VirtualSC, the statewide virtual learning program, one of the fastest growing in the nation. Our graduation rate is now 80 percent, the highest in state history. For the past several years, we’ve been one of the nation’s leaders in adult education, providing hope for young men and women and increased work opportunities.
The foundation for our state’s future is being laid today, in classrooms across South Carolina. We should be proud. Education stakeholders, technical colleges, institutions of higher education and the business community have come together with one common vision. Through partnerships, we have developed a profile of the ideal graduate, which tells us what high school graduates need to know to be ready for college, careers and citizenship.
This profile of the graduate has been adopted by the State Board of Education, the Education Oversight Committee and TransformSC and has been presented to members of the Legislature. Having this joint focus means we’re doing everything possible to prepare our students for successful lives after graduation.
New standards for English/language arts and mathematics are nearly ready for adoption. In a collaborative approach, parents, teachers, college professors, businessmen and -women and community leaders came together to draft and review new, high-quality standards that are appropriate for South Carolina. I am proud of these new standards and the thousands of hours of work conducted by so many people who care about public education in our state.
We will have new tests this spring and are engaging parents, teachers and the business community to spread awareness of them. These tests are all timed, reflecting a departure from previous testing in South Carolina. ACT Aspire will be administered to students in grades three through eight, while ACT Workkeys and The ACT will be given to students in the 11th grade. To learn more — and to ensure students are prepared to succeed on these assessments — please visit the S.C. Department of Education website and click on the ACT button.
We’ve placed numerous demands on those leading our schools and classrooms during the past few years, and I believe it’s time for us to take a deep breath, slow down and let our teachers do what they do best: Teach. Sometimes, we think policy ideas should come from Columbia, but find out later that trying to implement them in the field doesn’t work.
Local control works best. That’s why I endorsed a commonsense approach to allow the occasional Chick-fil-A biscuit or cupcake to be sold in schools. Let’s trust the parents and teachers in our communities. They know what works and doesn’t work better than anyone in Washington.
Having been both a classroom teacher and an assistant principal, I know this for sure: Great teachers want to work for great principals. We are working to deliver the best principal and teacher leadership, development and mentoring. Great teachers and principals are the keys to stronger student achievement.
Technology has the potential to transform education. I support Gov. Nikki Haley’s vision for technology in our schools — which was funded by the General Assembly — to expand high-speed Internet access to all of South Carolina. Technology can bring the world to a child’s doorstep, even in the most rural part of our state.
The S.C. Department of Education will continue to build our own connection to parents, students and educators through technology. I encourage you to visit our website at ed.sc.gov and participate in our social media outreach.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve as your state superintendent of education. When I visit schools, I see project-based learning, innovative ways of teaching and students truly engaged. Working together, I know we will be successful in building better schools and brighter futures.