Education Department and Anderson School District Five Partner to Enhance Curriculum Support Statewide

November 11, 2009

ANDERSON, SC – November 10, 2009 –  Teachers and school administrators across South Carolina now have access to an innovative curriculum resource that connects teaching and learning to the state standards, thanks to a new partnership between the Department of Education and Anderson School District Five.

The curriculum developed by the Upstate school district incorporates a variety of instructional resources including pacing guides, indicator pages, activities, resources, unit plans, web sites and sample test items, all aligned to the South Carolina academic standards.   It will work to enhance the South Carolina Standards Support System (S3), the Department’s initiative launched earlier this year.  S3 brings together in one place three key elements: standards and supporting documents, curriculum and professional development services in the core academic areas – English/language arts, math, science and social studies. 

“The key to improving student achievement lies in changing and improving teacher practices within the classroom,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex.  “Since the Anderson curriculum was begun nine years ago, 33 Palmetto State school districts have bought access to it.  It’s a valuable, comprehensive resource for our ongoing state default curriculum development efforts – enabling us to maximize our support for quality teaching and learning across South Carolina. “

This fall, the Department of Education purchased curriculum rights from Anderson District Five at a one-time cost of $673,000. The SDE-Anderson Five agreement gives the agency rights to use and duplicate its contents. In addition, the contract gives the remaining 52 school districts, many of which do not have the personnel or financial means to develop or update curriculum materials, access to the curriculum contents at no cost.

“I am proud of the hard work done by our teachers and content staff in creating this curriculum tied to our state standards,” said District Five Superintendent Betty Bagley. “Equally important was the vision shown by our Board of Trustees in approving and funding this effort.”

Mrs. Bagley added that the money earned from selling the curriculum to individual districts has helped defray much of the cost of creating and constantly revising the curriculum for District Five. The sale of the curriculum to the state will continue to help fund revisions, she said.

“Our partnership is a win-win situation for both the department and Anderson Five,” Rex said.  “First, it gives our agency access to a South Carolina grown curriculum product that has been tested and tried successfully by over a third of our districts.  In turn, Anderson Five will set aside funds from the sale of curriculum rights to continue to update the current curriculum and develop new resources.”

SDE officials say raising student achievement requires alignment between what’s written, taught and tested, supporting instructional resources and a tiered approach.  

“That’s been our focus over this past year,” said Dr. Valerie Harrison, the agency’s Deputy Superintendent for Standards and Learning.  “We’ve tried to target the individual needs of schools in an effort to improve learning through S3.  The Anderson Five curriculum piece helps us take this process up a notch.  This will be a critical tool for giving our teachers the extra support they need to help students learn more effectively.  Finally, it helps realize Dr. Rex’s vision of leveling the learning field for all students, no matter where they live or attend school.” 

As part of the S3 implementation, the SDE unveiled a set of new curriculum guides to help in teaching South Carolina’s academic standards during the state’s annual Research to Practice Forum this summer.  The guides link written standards, classroom teaching and testing of students’ mastery of a subject.  S3 materials are available for grades K-8 as well as high school courses including American history and the Constitution, biology, elementary algebra, English I and physical science. 

S3, which is available on the Department of Education’s Web site, has created a tremendous amount of interest among classroom teachers looking for help in improving classroom instruction. Since August, there have been nearly 60,000 visits to the site to access curriculum resources. The materials assist teachers in providing instruction aligned both with the standards and the state accountability assessments, the PASS and high school end-of-course examinations.

Department officials say that all of the curriculum materials are intended to be “live documents” that can be revised and improved continually based on feedback from teachers, district curriculum and instruction leaders and the newly acquired Anderson Five Curriculum resource.