District, college math professionals propose high school curriculum changes

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative’s Math Pathways Project Team (MPPT), made up of math professionals at the district and college level, has reviewed and evaluated the region’s high school math curriculum.

Today, the team has released a statement with recommendations for the regional school districts, which include Berkeley County School District, Charleston County School District, Dorchester School District 2 and Dorchester School District 4.

These recommendations are intended to open pathways to college and career access related to science, business, technology, engineering and other STEM-related disciplines.

Statement regarding the tri-county region’s math curriculum

After careful study, the Math Pathways Project Team has reached consensus on the following recommendations directed to the four school districts serving Lowcountry students:

  1. All students should complete four credits of math in high school, including Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry and a fourth higher-level math course beyond Algebra 2.
  2. All students should enroll in and complete a math course each year of high school. Students who complete required math credits prior to ninth grade may receive graduation credit for that coursework; however, these students should still enroll in and complete a math course during each high school year.
  3. Students planning on pursuing a STEM career should take an Algebra-based course, preferably Pre-Calculus, as their fourth level math course. If Pre-Calculus is completed prior to senior year, students should enroll in and complete an additional Algebra-based course.
  4. High school math courses beyond Algebra 1 should include a final course exam that is common across the district and aligned exclusively to the set of priority standards that are set for that course.

In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, findings showed that of all pre-college courses, the highest level of math a student completes has the strongest influence on postsecondary-degree completion, and completing a course beyond Algebra 2 more than doubles the odds that a student who enters a postsecondary program will complete their degree.

Local high school graduates arrive at college largely unprepared for college-level math courses. Almost nine in 10 tri-county students enrolling at Trident Technical College require math remediation, while nearly 40% of those taking the math placement test at other MPPT-member colleges fail to pass and must either remediate or lose access to STEM-related majors.

This lack of proficiency is, in part, because students do not take a math course their senior year of high school, and consequently do not have the required level of knowledge to succeed in college-level courses.

Requiring a math course every year would significantly improve the prospects of college-bound students to access a STEM-related field and avoid remediation. While the MPPT recognizes that many students will graduate high school with no interest in STEM or no interest in attending college, being current and capable in math equips all students with critical thinking skills important to any career as well as the completion of a two- or four-year degree down the road.

The MPPT has also concluded that most final exams for high school math courses beyond Algebra 1 are not common, district-wide assessments, and, therefore, may have little to no accountability for the content assessed.

To ensure that all students are assessed on their proficiency with the standards applicable to each course, the MPPT strongly encourages school districts to create or obtain and use common final course exams that are tied exclusively to the state adopted South Carolina College- and Career-Ready Standards for Mathematics.

Respectfully submitted,

Geoff Schuler, Math Pathways Project Team Convener

Todd Ashby, Charleston Southern University

Mei Chen, The Citadel

Catherine DeMers, Charleston County School District

Karen Fonkert, Charleston Southern University

David Harris, Trident Technical College

Deborah Jeter, College of Charleston

Robert Mignone, College of Charleston

Sarah Piwinski, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

Kelly Purvis, Dorchester School District 2

John C. Read, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

Candace Rice, Dorchester School District 4

George Roy, University of South Carolina

Ann Sanderson, Dorchester School District 2

Wendy Sheppard, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

Melissa Stowasser, Trident Technical College

Ryan Thomas, Charleston Southern University

Jennifer Thorsten, Berkeley County School District

Andrew Tyminski, Clemson University
David Virtue, University of South Carolina

Jan Yow, University of South Carolina

New board member elected

Today, Rev. Dr. Larry Goss, Sr., who is the pastor of The Destiny Worship Center in North Charleston, was elected to the TCCC Board of Directors.

The Board now consists of 27 community leaders.

Welcome to the team, Rev. Dr. Goss!

High School STEM Career Fair

We met so many wonderful tri-county region students today at the High School STEM Career Fair, presented by the Charleston Regional Business Journal, at the North Charleston Convention Center!

We shared tips on filling out the FAFSA and asked students to take a survey about what kind of career their interested in pursuing, the kinds of classes their taking and their knowledge of the FAFSA. We’ll be sharing the results of the survey with our High School Graduation Network to help them in their planning and decision making.

Let’s get ready to FAFSA!

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is how you apply for federal grants, including the Pell Grant, as well as work-study funds, student loans and scholarships.

If you plan to attend college between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, you should fill out your FAFSA now!

Tips for Completing the FAFSA

1.) The official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov. You should never be asked to pay to complete the FAFSA. It’s always FREE.

2.) Fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible. Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and some states and colleges run out of money early. Even if it seems like your school’s deadline is far off in the future, get your FAFSA done ASAP.

3.) It’s important to get an FSA ID before filling out the FAFSA form. When you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA form electronically. An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites, including fafsa.gov. You AND your parent will each need your own, separate FSA IDs if you both want to sign your FAFSA form online. Create an FSA ID at: StudentAid.gov/fsaid.

4.) Colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added, so you should add ALL colleges you are considering to your FAFSA form, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll apply or be accepted. You can add up to 10 schools at a time.

Tri-county region sees declines in key reading, math test results

Newly released year-end test results for the tri-county region show year-over-year declines in reading proficiency for third and eighth grade, both pivotal years in a child’s academic career.

Third grade math proficiency also declined, but increased at the eighth-grade level. Despite the eighth-grade math increase, too many students continue to fall short of grade-level expectations.

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative closely tracks third and eighth grade test results in particular because those years are important indicators of later success. Third grade results can predict a child’s likelihood to graduate from high school, while eighth grade results are directly tied to college and career readiness.

Only 48 percent of tri-county third graders met or exceeded grade-level reading standards on the SC READY test at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, an 8 percent decline from the prior year. On the math assessment, 57 percent of third graders met or exceeded standards, a 2 percent year-over-year decrease.

At the eighth-grade level, 45 percent of tri-county students met or exceeded reading standards versus 51 percent the prior year. Math results in eighth grade showed a modest 7 percent year-over-year proficiency increase; however, a significant percentage of students, 60 percent, scored as “not proficient.”

“While these test results are but one indicator of student progress, they are very consistent with all of the other data we see at the regional and district level,” TCCC CEO John C. Read said. “It is apparent that the public education system our community provides and to which our kids are entitled is not getting the job done, especially for our most vulnerable children.”

When broken down by race and poverty levels, the SC READY test results show substantial disparity gaps continue to exist among tri-county students.

For instance, in third-grade math, 72 percent of White students met or exceeded expectations while only 43 percent of Hispanic students and 37 percent of Black students did the same. Similarly, in eighth-grade reading, 60 percent of White students met or exceeded expectations while just 36 percent of Hispanic students and 24 percent of Black students did the same.

Test results for students living in poverty were also lower than for those living above the poverty line. For third-grade reading, as an example, 69 percent of students not living in poverty met or exceeded expectations while only 32 percent of those living in poverty did the same. In eighth-grade math, 56 percent of students above the line met or exceeded expectations while 23 percent of those living in poverty did the same.

The S.C. Department of Education released state, district and school level data for end-of-year tests from the 2016-2017 school year earlier this week. Tri-county data include results from Berkeley County School District, Charleston County School District, Dorchester School District 2 and Dorchester County School District 4.

Test results were based on the SC READY exam, which was given to all S.C. students in 3rd through 8th grades. The test is intended to measure overall student performance and college-and-career ready standards in core content areas.

Photos from Phoenix

The TCCC staff is in Phoenix this week, along with more than 400 other community leaders from across the country, for the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Networking Convening.

To tag along as we travel and learn, follow us on Twitter at @C2CTriCounty or on Facebook.

TCCC Staff Heading to Phoenix

The Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative staff will be traveling to a national convening in Phoenix, Arizona this week!

Continuing our work to help all students in the tri-county region, we’ll be joining more than 400 community leaders from across the country for the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Networking Convening. This year’s theme is “Be the Change: Getting Results for Every Child.”

The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network brings together cross-sector leaders who are committed to improving educational outcomes for all children. Representing 70 community partnerships in 32 states and Washington, D.C., we’ll share our work to unite communities around shared goals and measurable results in education.

We’ll attend sessions and workshops devoted to building a culture of continuous improvement, eliminating disparities, engaging the community, improving outcomes and leveraging existing assets.

To tag along as we travel and learn, follow us on Twitter at @C2CTriCounty or on Facebook.


The Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative office at 6296 Rivers Avenue, Suite 308 in North Charleston will be closed from Tuesday, October 3 through Friday, October 6.

To reach a staff member, please email or call them directly. Contact information for each staff member is listed here.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

High School Graduation Network Convening

On Wednesday, our High School Graduation Network met at The Boeing Company in North Charleston to discuss 4 projects:

  • College and Career Readiness
  • Disconnected Youth
  • Students with Special Needs

The High School Graduation Network is comprised of community members who are committed to improving the on-time graduation rate in our region and ensuring students are ready for college or a career in the modern workforce.

To learn more or to join the Network, contact Sarah Piwinski, TCCC’s Director of Data Management and Analysis, at sarah@tricountycradletocareer.org or 843.408.6598.

Job Opening: Family Connects Project Manager

Trident United Way, the Convener of Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative’s Kindergarten Readiness Network, is hiring a Family Connects Project Manager to support the Network’s work.

A full description of the position is posted here, and applications are being accepted now. We urge anyone interested to apply! Depending on the candidate, this can be a full-time position with benefits or an independent contractor position.

In June, the Kindergarten Readiness Network voted overwhelmingly to proceed into the due-diligence period with Family Connects, an evidence-based program that’s intended to serve all families with newborns in the region.

Through Family Connects, nurses visit newborns and their families at their homes in the first three months of life to connect them with community resources and health care providers.

Intensive planning for the program will take place over the next nine months during the due diligence period, and we have already received commitments from Trident United Way and The Duke Endowment to fund the work.

The Family Connects Project Manager will serve as primary relationship and project manager for the Family Connects exploration process in collaboration with the Family Connects team, Trident United Way staff, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, Kindergarten Readiness Guiding Team, hospitals and other relevant stakeholders.

S.C. education deans collaborate to remedy acute teacher shortage

The deans of six of South Carolina’s larger Schools and Colleges of Education have formed a consortium to address collaboratively some of the state’s most pressing education issues. Today, they have released a statement urging action to address the teacher shortage being experienced across South Carolina.

The deans convened at the request of the Provosts of nine colleges and universities across the state who have been meeting for the past two years under the auspices of the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC), a collective impact site at work in the Low Country.

“This statement on the part of education deans reflects both a deep concern on their part for the teaching profession in our state and an intention to take collective action in the interests of public education,” John C. Read, CEO of TCCC, said. “We were gratified to be asked to facilitate their work.”

The statement is directed at the newly established South Carolina Educator Retention and Recruitment Study Committee, which was established by the Legislature, as well as the South Carolina Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education. The statement was facilitated by TCCC and prepared by the deans following meetings with senior representatives of SCDOE, CHE and the Education Oversight Committee (EOC).

The dean’s consortium has met twice, and future meetings are planned to address the teacher shortage and other pressing education issues.


Statement addressed to the S.C. Educator Retention and Recruitment Study Committee regarding the teacher shortage in South Carolina:

The shortage of qualified teachers in South Carolina, especially in high poverty and rural areas and in disciplines including math and science, has become so critical as to compromise both the quality of education and future economic development across the state. Enrollment declines at colleges of education only serve to exacerbate this crisis.

On August 18, 2017, the Deans of Education from Clemson University, College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, The Citadel, University of South Carolina and Winthrop University, as well as representatives from the Center for Education Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and the S.C. Education Oversight Committee (EOC), met to establish the facts and potential countermeasures. The meeting was convened and facilitated by the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC).

A second meeting occurred on August 30 in Charleston, S.C. with State Superintendent Molly Spearman and Jeff Schilz, Interim President of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education, in attendance.

Fact Finding

The number of teachers leaving their positions each year (6,500 in 2016) is significantly higher than the number of S.C. graduates of teacher programs available to fill them (1,700 in 2016). Enrollment in S.C. teacher training programs is declining on average by 4% per year.

Of the nearly 6,500 teachers who did not return to their positions:

  • 25% took a teaching position in another S.C. district or special school;
  • 23% percent left because of a personal choice;
  • 18% retired;
  • 12% moved out of the area;
  • 5% changed professions altogether;
  • 5% took a teaching position out of the state or country; and
  • 4% were terminated or their contracts/letters of agreement were not renewed.

Additionally, 38% of the 6,500 teachers who did not return had five or fewer years of classroom experience.

High teacher turnover creates a continuous state of rebuilding in schools, often diminishing the collaboration and cohesion needed to build a sense of community. Additionally, the constant process of hiring and replacing teachers consumes an inordinate amount of districts’ capital — both human and financial.

Unless corrective action is taken, the failure to attract and retain great teachers will significantly compromise the education attainment of our children, the fiscal health of our communities and our collective capacity to attract new jobs and families to our state.


The need for innovative programs and strategies for both recruiting and retaining quality educators in South Carolina is apparent. Collective action is required to develop and implement incentives and structures to attract, develop and retain quality teachers.

We urge the S.C. Department of Education and the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to work with us and other Schools and Colleges of Education to:

  1. Provide expedited approval of pilot programs that would allow for conditional certification of educators followed by full credentialing after years of service, demonstration of instructional effectiveness and success in Praxis subject assessment.

We are committed to working together in the development and deployment of these pilots to ensure that they are complementary and aligned. We further commit to working within our own institutions to minimize delays and to “fast-track” internal approval.

  1. Work with the governor and S.C. Legislature to significantly increase funding for evidence-based programs, including Call Me Mister and Teaching Fellows.

These programs are known to work and can contribute significantly to the supply of qualified teachers. In the case of Teaching Fellows, we urge that the amount of the award be increased immediately, in line with CERRA’s recommendations, and ultimately the number of awards.

Additional areas of critical need that we intend to address as a group in the coming months include the following:

Develop powerful messaging that truly outlines the needs.

  • Further analyze the shortage to target geographic and content areas.
  • Define the shortage not only by the number of required teachers but also by the number of students impacted.

Develop multiple pathways to certification.

  • All certification pathways must produce educators who have content and pedagogical knowledge, as well as demonstrated professional disposition for classroom instruction, and who have completed rigorous, supervised field experiences in the subjects they will teach.
  • Provide flexibility to districts and colleges of education in partnership with districts to develop models that respond to local needs.

Educator compensation must be addressed.

  • Low teacher pay, especially in their first five years, is a handicap in attracting new teachers to the profession.
  • Innovative initiatives that include differentiated tuition programs and/or loan forgiveness need to be evaluated as possible recruitment tools.

Address the issue through both the lens of recruitment and retention.

  • Develop marketing that encourages students to pursue this career path.
  • Showcase excellence.
  • Engage the business community in changing the narrative on teaching and its importance.
  • Market existing teacher loan programs better.
  • Increase fiscal support for individuals to pursue this career path, i.e. Call Me Mister, ProTeam and Teacher Cadet programs.
  • Develop career advancement opportunities for veteran teachers that will retain our best teachers in the classroom, i.e. dual roles, teacher leadership, National Board Certification.
  • Supplement National Board Certification to promote mid-career retention.
  • Provide new teachers with appropriate professional support, feedback and demonstration of what it takes to help their students succeed.

Address school climate.

  • Address the underlying causes for why educators depart within the first five years, i.e. compensation and working conditions.
  • Increase supports and training for district and school-level leadership. Leaders must be able to build authentic collaboration with their staff members while providing instructional supervision.

Respectfully submitted,


Larry G. Daniel, Dean
Zucker Family School of Education
The Citadel

George Petersen, Dean
College of Education
Clemson University

Frances C. Welch, Dean
School of Education, Health & Human Performance
College of Charleston

Tracy Meetze-Holcombe, Dean
School of Education
Francis Marion University

Jon Pedersen, Dean
College of Education
University of South Carolina

Jennie Rakestraw, Dean
Richard W. Riley College of Education
Winthrop University