In reference to a Jan. 7 Aiken Standard article, Rep. Bill Taylor was quoted, “ ... public education hasn’t changed in decades and needs to get away from the status quo.” As Superintendent of Aiken County public schools, I agree that public education must continue to improve and prepare students for an ever-changing world; however, I do not agree that education has not changed in decades. Today, students are challenged to learn more at an even faster pace than just a few years ago, and the strategies our schools are using are quite different.
Over the last several decades, the amount of knowledge that students must master has grown tremendously. Our 3rd graders not only learn the multiplication tables, but they have standards dealing with algebra, geometry, and probability. The Common Core State Standards will increase this trend of more information earlier and at a more rigorous level. Much of the science information that our students are learning did not even exist 10 years ago.
In 2005, the Education and Economic Development Act asked the schools to address the technological advances and globalization of the economy.
Part of that legislation was the Individual Graduation Plan, requiring a personal path to graduation developed by parents and educators for every student.
Apprenticeship efforts such as the Pre-engineering Partnership Academy with Aiken Technical College helps students earn college credit while still enrolled in high school.
We have added new courses at the Aiken County Career and Technical Center to address the needs of today’s workplace, such as mechatronics, computer technology, computer aided design and drafting, and digital technology.
The technology revolution has changed the face of instruction. Learning is not confined to the school walls, but extends to the world. Online instruction, virtual field trips, mobile devices, interactive white boards, multimedia presentations and much more are a part of education in 2013.
Public schools have always had some level of testing for student achievement, but the level of accountability required today is extensive. Pencil and paper tests are being replaced with online testing, with most standardized tests being computerized within the next two years. To check on their child’s school work, parents don’t have to rummage through backpacks. Busy parents can now track their child’s grades and attendance in real time online by utilizing programs such as Schoolfusion and Powerschool.
The status quo does not exist in Aiken County public schools. Every school is working on ways to improve instruction and increase student achievement. Successes can be found in every corner of Aiken County. Follow news in the Aiken Standard, the North Augusta Star and the local television stations to learn about many of our new and exciting initiatives.
Meeting the needs of every student is hard and difficult work, but our highly skilled and dedicated staff step up to the challenge every day.
As educators, we welcome ideas to improve our service to the students of Aiken County and appreciate the support of our generous community.
Dr. Elizabeth Everitt is the superintendent of the Aiken County public schools.