Five South Carolina Schools to be Honored at 2008 Blue Ribbon Awards Ceremony

October 12, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – October 10, 2008 – Five South Carolina public schools are among the 320 schools to be honored as 2008 No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon winners at ceremonies October 20-21 in Washington, DC.

The national No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program, run by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes public and private K-12 schools that are academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.

The Palmetto State winners are Carver Elementary in Florence (Florence District One), Crestview Elementary (Greenville County), East End Elementary in Easley (Pickens County), Lake Carolina Elementary in Columbia (Richland District Two) and Bethune-Bowman Middle/High School in Rowesville (Orangeburg Consolidated District Five).

“I’m proud of these five great schools,” State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said.  “Their mission is for each and every student to succeed, and they are led by outstanding principals, creative teachers and dedicated staff members.”

The U.S. Department of Education says that schools chosen as National Blue Ribbon recipients are models of excellence that other schools can emulate.
The program was modified in 2001 so that the selection criteria would be consistent with the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  In the new system, the USDE determines how many nominees each state can submit.  The federal agency allows South Carolina to nominate five schools, and those nominees must meet one of two criteria:

  • Schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and that dramatically improve student performance to high levels on state tests.
  • Schools that achieve in the top 10 percent of those in the state, regardless of their demographics.

Carver Elementary, East End Elementary, Bethune-Bowman and Crestview Elementary were identified under the first criterion.  Each school has more than 40 percent of its students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those students demonstrated high levels of achievement.

Lake Carolina Elementary was nominated based on the second criterion.  The school performed among the top 10 percent, and differences in student achievement between demographic subgroups also were reduced. 

All five nominated South Carolina schools not only met the basic criteria, but also scored higher against those criteria than other South Carolina schools.  All nominees had to have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under NCLB for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years, and also had to make AYP for the 2007-08 school year to be eligible for recognition.

Two people from each school – the principal and a teacher – are invited to the awards ceremonies, where the schools receive a plaque and a flag signifying their NCLB-Blue Ribbon School status.

More about the 2008 winners
• Carver Elementary School

A Title I school with 854 children in preschool-fourth grade who come from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, Carver’s greatest strength is its instructional framework carried out by an empowered, motivated and creative instructional staff. Using assessment results to drive instruction is an ongoing process. Cross-grade and longitudinal data are gathered and analyzed to provide information for curricular and instructional improvement. Numerous staff development opportunities provide teachers with tools to use innovative and challenging teaching practices. The principal has an open door policy and meets frequently with teachers to discuss challenges and resolve issues relating to instructional quality. 

Another major factor in Carver’s success is the school’s effort on creating a happy, healthy and safe environment where students, parents, community and staff know that they are valued and appreciated.  A positive relationship between home and school has very strong correlation to student achievement.  Many parental and community involvement activities are planned throughout the school year such as a Thanksgiving Festival, Superstar Math and Terrific Kids. There is an active Parent Teacher Organization and School Improvement Council at Carver.

• Crestview Elementary
Situated in the upstate South Carolina town of Greer, Crestview serves 728 students in grades K-6. Since 2002, the school has experienced dramatic changes in its student population.  The school’s poverty index increased from 28 per cent in 2002 to 65 per cent in 2008, and the number of students who speak English as a second language increased from 17 in 2003-2004 to 91 in 2008. Regardless of the changes, Crestview’s focus on student achievement remains steadfast. Crestview’s students have continued to excel academically.

One of the major reasons for Crestview’s success is its focused efforts on teacher quality, starting with a careful, deliberate recruiting and selection process involving multiple interviews with candidates who submit sample lesson plans and demonstrate lessons. The school’s Professional Development Team enhances teacher quality by providing almost weekly staff development activities. In addition to providing after-school opportunities for professional growth, the team arranges for district consultants in all core areas to conduct model lessons, observe teachers and give valuable feedback.  Working as a team, Crestview’s staff engages students by using different teaching methods to appeal to multiple interests and learning styles.  The school’s leadership is tenacious in its commitment to provide materials and means to enhance instruction. 

• East End Elementary

Nestled in the heart of historic downtown Easley in upstate South Carolina, East End Elementary was founded in 1950 with the stated purpose of creating a true neighborhood school.  Serving 698 students in grades K-5, the school’s mission statement is “Excelling in Academics, Encouraging Character, Embracing the Community and Seeking Success for All Students.”   From 2002 through 2007, the percentage of students living in poverty has risen from 37 percent to 55.5 per cent, a 50 percent increase.  However, East End continues to make gains, with 90 percent of students at every grade level scoring at or above state standards in almost every tested area.  East End has also met Adequate Yearly Progress as required by NCLB each year.  East End’s success is fueled by teachers working as a team, using assessment results and other relevant data to improve student learning and performance. Teachers use data to identify and address students’ areas of deficiency.  Appropriate interventions such as the Developmental Reading Assessment and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy are provided for students who have been identified as “not on target.” 

• Lake Carolina Elementary

Located in Northeast Columbia, Lake Carolina Elementary was opened in 2002 with approximately 350 students.  Currently, the school has an enrollment of 1,048 from diverse cultures and families speaking 17 different languages other than English.  The school’s success reflects its steadfast commitment to excellence in the face of challenges posed by growth and change.  The school has been rated as Excellent in absolute student achievement and Excellent in improvement consistently since 2002.   Lake Carolina has been recognized as a Red Carpet School and has won Palmetto Gold awards for high achievement for four consecutive years.
High teacher quality and efficacy are at the core of the school’s push for academic excellence.  Lake Carolina has an increasing number of National Board Certified teachers – currently a total
of 19 – and five are now seeking that certification.   Students are encouraged to develop their own particular interests and abilities through differentiated instruction, plus abundant in-school and extra-curricular personal and community enrichment opportunities. Parental and community involvement is strengthened by an effective communication network.  Orientations are held for all new parents, who receive a calendar/handbook outlining the year’s events and expectations. Teachers make frequent and timely contact with parents through e-mail groups, web pages and weekly class newsletters that highlight standards being taught, student successes and upcoming assignments and expectations.  Teachers also use communication logs to record their conferences and contacts with parents.  

• Bethune-Bowman Middle/High School

With a more than 93 percent minority student body – and with 93 percent of students eligible for free/reduced-priced meals – this is the only middle and high school in the Bowman and Rowesville communities, serving 411 young people in grades 7-12.  The school has experienced dramatic improvement, moving its absolute performance rating from Unsatisfactory in 2003 to Excellent in 2007.  The school received Palmetto Gold awards for the past three years and was the only high school in the state to be featured on SC ETV in 2008 for excellent student academic achievement and steady improvement.

Strong leadership and commitment to academic success unites Bethune-Bowman’s faculty, staff, parents and community, fostering a climate of high academic expectations.   Major academic programs and initiatives – such as Writing Across the Curriculum, department parent nights, SAT Preparation, PLATO, Skills Tutor,  Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Math, year-long remediation and enrichment classes – have contributed to the school’s progress.  The result is significant gains in PACT and HSAP test scores, plus an increase in graduation rates.