Academic Gains Slowing in S.C. Schools, Panel Finds

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Although South Carolina's schools improved markedly during the 1980's, student achievement must improve at an even faster rate during the 1990's for the state to meet academic goals for 2000, a report concludes.

The report, issued by the South Carolina Business-Education Subcommittee this month, is the eighth annual evaluation by the panel of how well the state is implementing the Education Improvement Act of 1984, its landmark school-reform law.

According to the panel, which includes business leaders, educators, and lawmakers, the state must meet or exceed the annual gains made between 1983 and 1988 in order to meet the new education goals.

Since 1988, the report says, the state has made only modest gains and has sustained some losses in moving toward its goals.

Th accelerate the rate of improvement, the panel called on the state to:

  • Combine four early-childhood programs currently being funded by the E.I.A. and its successor legislation, Target 2000.
  • Create a venture-capital fund to help schools restructure, by consolidating five existing school-reform programs.
  • Offer high-school students improved occupational and career training.
  • Fully fund the state's basic education program with general-fund monies. Over the past two years, several programs that used to be paid for from the general fund are now being funded with revenues generated by a l-cent increase in the sales tax adopted in 1984 and earmarked for E.I.A. programs.

Maintaining the gains made during the past decade will be more difficult during the 1990's because of the higher poverty rates and other growing social problems that now face children, the report acknowledges. Nonetheless, such effort are necessary, it contends.

"There is an urgency to act now to dramatically improve the state's 1,100 public schools and the environment in which many children are raised outside the schools," the report concludes.

"To achieve this quantum leap, state and local leaders in the public and private sectors must mobilize on the equivalent scale of an 'Operation Desert Storm' to help all children in South Carolina reach their maximum potential," it urges.

Vol. 11, Issue 39, Page 26

Published in Print: June 17, 1992, as Academic Gains Slowing in S.C. Schools, Panel Finds
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