Charleston County School District (CCSD) is the second largest school system in South Carolina representing a unique blend of urban, suburban, and rural schools spanning 1,000 square miles of coastal lands. In the 2008-2009 school year, CCSD is serving approximately 42,500 students in 81 schools (47 elementary, 15 middle, 13 high, and six multi-level) and several specialized programs. CCSD's programs and schools are divided into five Learning Communities based on grade level, each headed by an Associate Superintendent.
With approximately 5,500 employees district-wide, CCSD is the fourth largest employer in the region. All staff, whether in or out of the classroom, share a commitment to excellence for every child. We are especially proud of our teachers; at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, teacher vacancies were at an all-time low, down to 3.4 from over 100 just three years ago.
Building on the data-driven, foundational reforms of the Charleston Plan for Excellence, CCSD implemented a bold three-year vision of Charleston Achieving Excellence in Spring 2008. This vision centers on three goals and three values which are woven into every one of CCSD’s strategies, actions, and systems.
The goals of Charleston Achieving Excellence are simple. CCSD is elevating the achievement of all students, closing the achievement gap between groups of students, and boosting the graduation rate. These are the kinds of results that will prepare whole generations of Charleston County children to succeed in school and beyond.
The plan also recognizes that these goals cannot be achieved without a solid bedrock of meaningful values to support them. Three core values-Results, Access, and Partnerships-help promote a collaborative and high-achieving culture always mindful that students are people, not test scores.
Every day, CCSD schools and students prove that Charleston is Achieving Excellence. To ensure that students receive a well-rounded education and develop into healthy young adults, the district has expanded existing collaborations in support of child health and nutrition, literacy, and arts and music. District-wide, CCSD employees, partners, and volunteers work to promote a college-bound culture beginning in the early grades, connecting all student learning in the classroom with positive future outcomes.
And the results of these efforts can be seen across the county. This year, students in grades 3 through 8 performed better on the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test (PACT) than ever before with the greatest percentage of students scoring at the Proficient or Advanced levels in both English-Language Arts (ELA) and Math than in the ten-year history of the test, outscoring the state at every level. Charleston County public schools are safer than ever-last year, office referrals, serious incidents, suspensions and expulsions all went down. The district led the state in the number of Palmetto Gold & Silver Awards earned, and 26 schools were recognized by the state for closing the achievement gap.
The district has also made tremendous strides in delivering a world-class high school education. Last year, scores on the HSAP—taken in high school-continued an upward trend. Advanced Placement scores went up, even with a record number of students taking the exams. ACT scores were the highest they had been in eleven years, and the CCSD’s overall graduation rate increased 11%. In the 2007-2008 school year, the district’s students earned a record $42,000,000 in scholarships, over $6,000,000 more than the previous year.