School starts back August 17th or 18th in most of South Carolina’s 85 school districts. Only 16 districts begin August 19 and after. Pickens County is the last, starting on September 1. Fifteen high school and college faculty members from across the state are at the forefront of a ground-breaking initiative designed to increase connections between high school courses and entry-level college and technical education courses. The program will be implemented statewide the following year.
Valerie Harrison serves as Deputy Superintendent for Standards and Learning. She says the South Carolina Course Alignment Project is the first of its kind in the nation. “The goal of the project is make sure there is an understanding of the expectations of students as they enter higher education, that high school teachers are clear.”
Harrison says the program is also intended to be a learning experience for college and tech school professors.
It’s a way to clarify expectations on both sides. “A lot of high ed institutions have remedial courses for some students. Having the faculties working together over time will probably eliminate the need for that.”
Surprisingly, says Harrison, there is already a high level of alignment already, especially in the sciences.
She says one not-so-small example of a misalignment between high school and higher ed practices is the elaborate six-week process that high school students typically go through to prepare for their first big term paper in English class, note cards and all. “It’s not really necessary. The high school teachers were told by professors that students don’t need to do all that. They need to know how to analyze, and not to copy work, but we don’t need them to go through all those steps.”
And that, says Harrison, is a good thing, because it will save time that can be spent on other things.