For generations, the traditional public school model has been the same. Students go to class, teachers lecture on textbook material, and everyone moves along at about the same pace.
Our system doesn’t take into account the fact that different students learn at different paces, and through different methodologies. This agrarian model has served its purpose when we lived in an agraian community, but it will not prepare students to compete in today’s workforce and growing economy.
Teachers in South Carolina don’t have the time or the resources to dedicate to individualizing students’ education, leaving many students by the wayside.
As a result, a quarter of students drop out without a high school diploma. Of the high school graduates enrolling in technical colleges in South Carolina, 41 percent require remediation before beginning college-level courses at a cost of $21 million to taxpayers. Every year.
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In 2013, a collaboration of business leaders, policymakers, educators, parents and students decided that something needed to be done in order to transform the way we do education in South Carolina. We call it TransformSC, and the goal is to create a new system of learning that will produce graduates ready to compete in a global economy.
Parents, teachers, and school officials alike agree that innovation in the classroom is the way forward. TransformSC is working to help South Carolina embrace a culture of education innovation. Since its inception, TransformSC’s coalition has grown to 63 schools across 25 districts.
TransformSC schools across the state are implementing innovative practices like project-based learning, blended learning and integration of new technologies into the classroom environment.
Students only progress to the next grade level once they have mastered content, and as a result, graduation rates and student performance within TransformSC schools are much higher.
Making sure every student matches the profile of the S.C. graduate, developed by TransformSC, is now the guiding principle in education in our state. Students of TransformSC schools exemplify mastery of math, science and reading.
The profile of the graduate includes essential life skills such as creativity, critical thinking and teamwork. In addition, according to the model, S.C. graduates should have integrity, self-direction and a global perspective, allowing them to compete in any job market.
Carolina High School is one example of a school that is flourishing under the TransformSC model. Based in rural Greenville County, Carolina High has an enrollment of 755 students. In 2013, Carolina High had a 62 percent graduation rate. In 2017, the school increased its graduation rate to an impressive 84 percent, with graduates earning more than $3million in scholarships. Students at Carolina High School have a personal connection with the faculty and express a sense of family within the school. They are encouraged to strive and work outside of their comfort zones.
The fact that more schools and districts are joining the TransformSC network shows how leadership can transform education in South Carolina.
On Thursday, and Friday, our coalition will once again come together to host the 2018 TransformSC Spring Conference in Columbia. The conference will focus on “Transformation Through Data,” with presentations highlighting how data can guide innovation and lead to personalized learning in every classroom.
This is a great opportunity for people to see our transformation in action, and interact with members of our coalition.
If you’d like to attend the conference, please visit sccompetes.org/transformsc to register.
You’ll see the future of learning unfold.
Mr. Brenan is president of BB&T in South Carolina and co-chair of TransformSC; contact him at email@example.com.