Summer News- Legislative Update

Congratulations to Shiree Turner Fowler, named this years Greenville County School District Teacher of the Year. Ms Turner-Fowler is a teacher at Hollis Elementary Academy. If you have not heard her story, check out this article. She has an incredible passion for achieving literacy outcomes among her “scholars’  and improving parent engagement. She has an incredible heart for our young learners and we are luck to have her among our faculty.
During the summer there was a lot of exciting news coming out of the Greenville County School District:

We learned that our students recorded an average of 21.9 on the American College Test (ACT) in 2015. This is a remarkable feat, and places our average score ahead of the state (20.4) and nation (21.0) averages. Kudos to our High School students, parents, and educators for helping our district reach this significant milestone!

The School District revised its cellphone policy. Specifically, the policy revisions remove the outright banning of personal cellphones, pagers, tablets as a district policy, and gives the authority to the Principal at the local school to set a policy that is most appropriate for each school. This was a technical change, otherwise teachers could not give permission for students to use their tablets for research. It DOES NOT allow students to use phones whenever they want, and the Principals/Teachers still have the authority to prohibit cell phone use in specific classrooms or at specific times (like during tests)

A few other statewide highlights:

Palmetto Gold and Silver awards announcedCongratulations to the 55 Greenville County Schools that were recognized by the SC Education oversight commission for strides towards closing the achievement gap!

There is currently questions about whether students can opt-out of mandatory testing. Currently, the Federal law requires that all students must be required to take these tests- and districts can be penalized, and lose their Title I funds if 95% of their students are not tested. Recent concerns about Common Core testing has led some families to ask their children be exempt from testing. There is discussion of a bill that would grant SC parents the ability to opt-out of testing- but questions remain about how this state law will be reconciled with federal policy.

Citizenship test was added at high school level. The intent is to have SC Students take (and presumably pass) the test administered to those seeking US citizenship. According to the bill, the statewide test is mandatory, and results will be included in student report card. However, there is not a requirement for students to pas this test. There are questions about whether students will take seriously a low-stakes test like this, and how the expected low scores will be interpreted.

In response to a growing concern about the prevalence of incidents of Domestic Violence  in the state, the SC Legislature has added Domestic Violence education to list of subjects expected to be covered in districts comprehensive health education plan for grades 6-8. The curriculum is expected to be adopted soon with implementation beginning 2016-2017 school year.

Snow Day relief. A revision to state law currently allows school board to waive up to 3 inclement weather days a year, but only AFTER the district makes up three inclement weather days. So, our district will build in three make-up days, and once those are used, will be able to waive additional days from having to be made up without seeking approval from the legislature.