Monday, August 15, 2016

CCSD Must Replicate MSA@Brentwood's Good News

Imagine a Charleston County where the poor entered middle and high school reading as well as or better than the rich. What a huge difference that would make in schools known for their top-heavy loads of students reading below grade level and dropouts.

Imagine: almost all teenagers would be able to read their own textbooks!

If the Charleston County School District knew how to bring this phenomenon to fruition, it would be criminal not to do so. That's why the early results emanating from Meeting Street Academy @ Brentwood are so important. While some find any private-sector involvement in public schools suspect, the latest test results from the takeover of Brentwood, a notoriously failing school, should give them pause. The results give the rest of us hope.

If the  two years of reading scores from MSA@Brentwood hold up to scrutiny, the school will become one of the highest-achieving in the district. These are not "selected" students but those who live within the designated district lines. As a recent op-ed pointed out, 90 percent of its students qualify for free and reduced lunch, yet its kindergarteners scored in the 95th percentile for schools nationwide. Those students have always been under the management of MSA. The first-graders, who also have been under the aegis of MSA for two years, scored in the 92nd percentile. The third graders, who began school under CCSD's program and then switched two years ago to MSA's, ranked in the 78th percentile.

If these figures continue to hold up, CCSD must face a decision regarding the least among us. Let's hope that it's the right one.

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