Education researchers share how SC can close achievement gap
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Researchers with the University of South Carolina’s College of Education have unveiled new report that details what South Carolina can do to accomplish a ‘whole child’ approach to education.

Research Professor Dr. Barnett Berry says the report outlines a roadmap for South Carolina. Dr. Berry is also the Senior Director for Policy & Innovation and Founder & Senior Advisor of ALL4SC.

Dr. Berry says whole child education connects and supports a young person’s academic learning by also attending to their social, emotional, cognitive, physical and mental health development and needs. According to Berry, the approach anchors schools as hubs of their communities while also relying on cross-sector partnerships.

The report says there are many out-of-school factors that impact academics.

Berry says it is a more effective and cost-efficient system of schooling that could help students in South Carolina reach their full potential and have the knowledge and skills to succeed in life and career.

“South Carolina has many of the pieces of the puzzle in place,” he said.

States likes Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio have embraced some of these policies.

The report says there are things the state can build upon, like the South Carolina Department of Education’s Profile of the SC Graduate. This was put in place in 2015 and help begin personalizing learning for every student in South Carolina to transcend the “one-size-fits-all” approach to education.

Dr. Berry says, “There are a wide array of policies that actually undermine our efforts to support the whole child.”

The report found different agencies have their own visions, leading to fragmentation, division, and lack of coordination and collaboration.

Researchers suggest finding ways to implement policies from community schools in South Carolina public schools.

“Evidence shows that when you have schools working with their communities and bringing the support of the whole child into the academic work of the school — kids actually do better,” Berry said. “They attend school more. They are more engaged in school.”

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