The University of South Carolina (UofSC) has been awarded 4.3 million dollars from the South Carolina Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Services (OSES) in the Division of College and Career Readiness to create the Academic Alliance of South Carolina (AASC). The AASC is housed in the Department of Special Education in the College of Education and led by Dr. Mitchell L. Yell, Fred and Francis Lester Palmetto Chair in Teacher Education. The AASC will partner with OSES to research and disseminate evidence-based practices to inform, implement, and sustain an integrated academic and behavioral framework within a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) to improve the academic achievement and social competence of students with disabilities across the state of South Carolina.
Dr. Deanna Parish, AASC project director, under the leadership of Dr. Yell will coordinate the partnership between OSES, members of UofSC’s College of Education faculty, and educational leaders in the field of special education. According to Dr. Yell, Senior Advisor, AASC will focus on supporting local schools and districts to build the capacity and infrastructure to support the use of high-leverage instructional practices for students with disabilities. This work aligns with the mission of the College of Education. Dr. Tommy Hodges, dean of the College of Education stated “The College of Education is committed to working with the SC Department of Education to provide the highest quality supports, driven by research, for students with disabilities. The Academic Alliance for South Carolina demonstrates our college’s mission to lead the state in advancing inclusive excellence in education, and prioritize the creation of data-based, meaningful resources for our state’s educators in the field.”
AASC will provide professional learning opportunities and disseminate practices to educators across the state. Cheryl Hubbard George, the Special Education Director at the Department of Juvenile Justice, is excited about the prospects stating, “AASC will help blaze the trail in supporting South Carolina educators, students, and all stakeholders to confidently utilize the blueprint of best practices for students with disabilities and elevate students' academic achievement.”
Family engagement and support will be infused throughout all of the work of AASC. Amy Holbert, Chief Executive Office of Family Connection South Carolina and AASC advisory board member shared “All parents want their children to receive the best education possible! We know one way to increase the likelihood of positive student outcomes is by using effective teaching methods supported by research, data, and accountability. Family Connection is thrilled to see the support for our schools to be able to increase their use of evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for students with disability in our state!”
The AASC will provide targeted technical assistance to school districts that have been identified as needing additional support by OSES. According to Dr. Jill Christmus, Interim Director of OSES, “this partnership with the UofSC will provide academic and functional supports and infrastructure for students with disabilities in our local school districts. It is grounded in evidence-based practices, so we have reason to believe these supports will work and lead to better outcomes for students.”
For more information on Professor Yell's work, contact, Anna Francis, Director of Communications for the College of Education.
For more information on the efforts of the SC Department of Education, contact Katrina Goggins, Chief Communications Officer of the SC Department of Education.