Academic innovation dominates discussion at BCSD community report

Superintendent Eddie Ingram speaks post-meeting with Tara Markham.

Berkeley County School District Supt. Eddie Ingram told business and community members Thursday that academic innovation wold be the focus heading into the upcoming school year.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce, Ingram and Kelly Wulf, chief of academics and innovation, explained the plans for new academic practices in the district including competency-based learning, multi-age classrooms and a move away from traditional grading systems.

Ingram said the district also wants to make classrooms learner-centered environments.

Wulf explained that the district is trying to make sure that students are prepared to enter either college or the workforce when they graduate from Berkeley County schools.

Wulf said that the goal of education should not just be about preparing students academically, but also teaching students things such as critical thinking, time management and working with others.

“We have got to start aligning our programs with talent demands,” Wulf said.

Wulf said that businesses in the area have plans to sponsor classes for the school district to train students for careers when they graduate.

‘We’ve got it wrong’

George Metz, dean of the College of Education at Charleston Southern University, asked Wulf and Ingram how these innovations in education would translate into state standardized tests.

Ingram responded that he did not support the current system of standardized testing in the schools.

“We’ve got it wrong,” Ingram said.

He that the current system is not set-up for student success and does not benefit in educating students or help them achieve all of which they are capable.

“We are putting our kids through a standardized testing death march,” Ingram said.

He went on to say that the current system of standardized is only in place because of powerful lobbies at the state level who are focusing on profits, and the state needs to work to bring an end to the system.

“It is state sanctioned child abuse,” said Ingram.

Ingram also explained that standardized testing does not allow for students to explore their interests and they cannot in turn find what they enjoy. Ingram said that standardized testing retards creativity.

Ingram then asked Metz if they have seen a drop in enrollment in the College of Education at Charleston Southern University and Metz said yes.

“Teachers are leaving in droves because of this system,” said Ingram.

Wulf added that the district is working to redefine what education actually is in this day and age, and what the goals are for students.

“It is about learning it is not about checking the box and moving on,” said Wulf.