(WSPA) – Each year South Carolina schools get a “report card” that’s meant to show how well kids in each school do on standardized tests. The idea is that they’ll hold teachers and administrators accountable.
Those kinds of measurements have been used to determine school funding or to evaluate teachers.
But the numbers also show, the problem with struggling students may start at home and the solution won’t cost a dime.
7News wanted to look at the schools where students do especially well and those where students are clearly struggling. Sure enough, the numbers revealed some common themes. In particular, there is a huge imbalance in parental volunteers.
In short, the successful schools have lots of parents and the struggling ones do not.
By almost any measure, Lakeview Middle School is struggling. On South Carolina’s standardized tests, more than half the students there got the lowest possible scores in English and math.
In 2016, out of more than 450 students, less than one percent earned the top score.
That’s no fluke.
When the next school year starts, 75% of the incoming 6th graders already read below grade level.
It’s clearly a problem that teachers and taxes haven’t fixed, but maybe there’s another problem.
After all the debates about how to save struggling schools, it may be the case that simply showing up makes an enormous difference.
In Greenville County schools, the volunteers have to sign in. That gives the district extensive data on how many hours parents and other members of the community volunteer at each school.
So, 7News put those numbers alongside the results from each school in the state’s standardized tests. Sure enough, it was a reliable relationship.
Lakeview had the fewest volunteer hours in the district last year. They also got the lowest scores.
Others, like Oakview Elementary, had several times as many hours and scores that were reliably much higher.
Latonya Copeland, the Principal at Lakeview said, “it’s based on the level of interest, I believe, that the community takes in the school and the amount of value they place on what’s happening inside the school.”