Horry County School Board to discuss achievement gaps in schools

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) The Office of Learning Services says the test score numbers are startling, showing big differences between your children's scores in Horry County Schools.

Administrators have not released the test score numbers because school board members haven't laid eyes on them yet, but Monday night school board members will begin the conversations on how to close the gaps.

The district has been talking about this issue for about a year now, but Monday is the first time it's taking steps to do something about it. Certain groups have been falling behind in test scores-- like disability students, African Americans, and students on free and reduced lunch.

The district created a committee to start working on a strategic plan. There are multiple options on the table to try and bring these students to where they need to be, from more work during class, a pull-out program, or after school tutoring. But school board members will start Monday night to figure out where exactly they need to begin.

"It's a challenge," said Jacqueline Stanley with the Horry County School District. "It's one we are happy to engage because it will allow us to not just work with people inside the school but grab hands with people outside of the school system."

One Horry County principal says it's all about adjusting to deal with each individual student's needs. South Conway Elementary developed different methods to help students -- from extra tutoring after school, to pull-out learning programs, and service learning.

The school has been using these extra methods for a couple of years now, and it's made some strides. WMBF News got some of the test numbers for South Conway Elementary school, showing one of the gaps, which is between white and black students.

In English Languages Arts(ELA) testing scores, the gap is closed and then some, as black students tested higher than white students. The principal says these extra efforts are helping and they are necessary for students.

"I think without all the things that we're doing," said South Conway Elementary Principal Leon Hayes. "That other schools may be doing as well our children will not have an opportunity to move forward and be prepared for life."

School board members will take a look at the test scores from schools to see what can be done district-wide. Stanley also says this challenge isn't something that can just be checked off at the end of the year, but it will more than likely be a long and ongoing process, and this is just the beginning.

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