Team Leader: Josh Young, Daniel High School Principal
The School District of Pickens County has stated in both its mission and vision that we will prepare students for college, career, and citizenship opportunities that will have them ready to find success beyond the classroom. The increasingly competitive global economy makes it imperative that our students enter career fields that enable higher wages and greater potential for growth. This is not an easily achieved goal and it is one that takes all levels (from Pre-K – Adult Education) in order to be properly achieved. Our schools must raise the expectations they place on students and help them set more ambitious postsecondary goals while also providing a wider array of supports to help students meet their individual goals.
Our state's most recent assessment plan, featuring ACT Aspire (Grades 3-8), ACT (Grade 11), and WorkKeys (Grade 11), allows our system of schools to evaluate where our students stand each year on key standards and skills. This connected system of assessments also points towards a common final goal of college readiness for all students each year they are tested. TransformSC's Profile of the SC High School Graduate says that our students should leave high school with world class knowledge, world class skills, and be equipped with life and career characteristics that will enable them to be successful. The knowledge base must feature rigorous standards in language arts and math and offer opportunities for multiple languages, STEM courses, and arts and social sciences. The world class skills needed include creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and teamwork, communication and technology, and knowing how to learn. Finally, the life and career characteristics are integrity, self-direction, global perspective, perseverance, work ethic, and interpersonal skills.
In order to prepare the types of students described above, we in the SDPC must make sure that we are working as a system with this final goal in mind of preparing these types of graduates. Increased opportunities for technology, STEM programs like PLTW in the elementary and middle schools, and additional vertical and horizontal alignment of standards and scope and sequence are certainly steps that will help to lead us to this goal.
As we prepare students for the ACT (college) and WorkKeys (career) assessments, we must continue to push for more rigor and relevance in our course offerings. Increased AP and dual credit courses are essential in order to provide students with rigorous coursework and opportunities to earn credits for college while still in high school. CTC courses and the various internships and apprenticeships they offer are steps that will further help to prepare our students for the world after high school. Partnerships with local colleges and universities as well as businesses and municipalities are other pathways to providing our students with opportunities to investigate and pursue college and career options.
If we are able to work together to provide our students with an innovative, challenging and comprehensive educational program from the time they enter our doors then the results we see on our ACT and WorkKeys assessments will take care of themselves and secure our spot as a top 5 district in SC.