By Al Dozier


Some 59 third-graders in District 5 failed to pass a new, state-mandated reading tests required for entry to fourth grade but almost all of them qualified for exemptions, according to a report received at Monday’s school board meeting.

Act 284, known as Read to Succeed, requires that a student must be retained in the third grade if the student fails to demonstrate reading proficiency at the end of the year. But Chief Instructional Officer Michael Guliano said 58 of the 59 students qualified for “good case exemptions” that will allow them proceed to the fourth grade.

State law allows local school districts to offer failing students into programs designed to improve reading proficiency, such as summer reading camps and intervention counseling.

According to published reports, failures reported by other Lexington County districts included: 97 in District 1; 70 in District 2; 9 in District 3; 47 in District 4. Richland District 1 had 212, while Richland 2 had 138. Those districts also had many students who qualified for exemptions

Read to Succeed legislation was created in 2015 to address literacy performance in South Carolina and put in place a comprehensive system of support to ensure students graduate on time with the literacy skills they need to be successful in college, careers and citizenship.

District 5 Board member Jan Hammond, a middle school teacher, said she worked with former Gov. Nikki Haley to get the measure in place. She said students who do not achieve reading proficiency by the third grade frequently have problems passing courses in later grades.

The board also received an update from Vann Holden, the district’s director of accountability, on the new state accountability model known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The law, passed in 2015, replaces the No Child Left Behind Act

Stakeholders and the public played an active role in the development of the ESSA State Plan for South Carolina prior to its submission to the U.S. Department of Education ) in 2017.

The state’s 2018 report card will be revamped to meet the requirements of the ESSA requirements.

During the public participation session former board member Kim Murphy once again urged the board to consider an audit that would determine if policies and school practices are protecting the district from corrupt practices that sometimes surface in the state’s school districts.

She tried to make the point at the last meeting but was told her comments were out of order.

She suggested the board establish a community-based forensic auditing committee that would raise critical questions about policies and practices.

“The reality is that some degree of corruption is likely to be found in most school districts,” she said.

Murphy handed each board member a copy of a publication by the Yankee Institute for Public Policy entitled “Ending Corruption and Waste in Your Public School.”

The board gave first reading approval to a “Content and Credit Recovery” policy for students who have been unsuccessful in mastering content or skills required to receive course credit. The program provides them with an opportunity to recover those credits.

The board also approved a new policy on programs for student employment credential and administrative rules.

The board agreed to reappoint Robert A Milam III to the Richland County B