Superintendent JR Green

New partnership aims to enrich student growth, opportunity

All4SC connects communities, researchers, schools to transform education

A growing number of communities in South Carolina are losing industries and jobs as well as facing a dire teacher shortage. Student performance lags behind the national average, especially in rural schools serving low-income students. Support services that address the academic, physical and social well-being of children and their families are often underutilized. A new research project at the University of South Carolina is focused on changing this trajectory.

The Accelerator for Learning and Leadership for South Carolina (ALL4SC) is an outreach project that will bring together researchers and professionals from 12 academic and professional units at the university to create a strategy to close achievement and opportunity gaps for all students

The ALL4SC initiative is exciting because it advocates for a communitywide effort, not just a schoolhouse effort.

J.R. Green, Fairfield County Superintendent and University of South Carolina alumnus

ALL4SC will focus on

  • community-based schooling that integrates the academic, social and health needs of students.
  • creative approaches to preparing and supporting educators that reinvents the teaching profession.
  • leadership development that spurs entrepreneurship in public education.
  • evidence-based storytelling to inform and engage policymakers, parents and community leaders.

“This is not a standalone research center or program, but rather a catalyst and accelerator for developing systems and more effective approaches to serving students and the educators who work with them every day,” says College of Education dean Jon Pedersen.

ALL4SC builds on what is already working and brings together key players and programs — from students, teachers and church leaders to researchers, business owners and lawmakers.

The work will begin in Fairfield County, South Carolina. The school district’s superintendent, J.R. Green, '91 B.A., '94 M.A., '00 Ph.D., says improving student achievement isn’t the sole responsibility of schools but instead requires input and change by the entire community. 

“Only as a unified team can we maximize the potential of our students,” Green says. “If the students improve their academic performance, graduate and attend post-secondary education but are not able to return home to work because of a lack of job opportunities, then our community will not grow and prosper. The ALL4SC initiative is exciting because it advocates for a communitywide effort, not just a schoolhouse effort.”

The university team will work with Fairfield County business and school leaders as well as community members to define the challenges they face; catalog the resources that already exist to support P-12 students; develop and use tools and processes to align people, data, evidence and money so all students can receive the support they need; and develop and launch a communications strategy to engage practitioners, policymakers and the public.

"Everything that needs to be done to serve children, their families and communities is already being done somewhere,” says Barnett Berry, founding director of ALL4SC and a research professor in the College of Education. “However, no state has put all the pieces of the puzzle together; we can do this in South Carolina.” 

ALL4SC will not only engage with communities and schools and develop robust research, but also propose new forms of accountability for schooling, communicate results and support efforts by other partners across the state. The five-year plan aims to develop a financial and organizational model for interdisciplinary, universitywide collaboration that extends to UofSC’s system campuses and its highest-need school/community partners.

“Our approach is to think big, start small and learn fast so that we can inspire new policies and financial investments in support of young people from cradle to career,” Berry says.

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