Disgraceful ACT Results Should Be A Wake Up Call

Jon Butzon

By Barney Blakeney

One local public schools advocate called the results of the South Carolina student ACT test scores disgraceful while a local legislator asked why.

The ACT tests all high school juniors to assess their readiness for college.

According to a report released last week only two percent of black students met the standard for college readiness in English, math, science and reading. Overall, only 14 percent of students met the standard.

The report revealed 33 percent of Asian students met the standard, 21 percent of white students met the standard and nine percent of Hispanic students met them.

Public schools advocate Jon Butzon said the results are disgraceful for all students, but especially so for black students.

School superintendents at both local and state levels should be embarrassed, he said.

Despite all its claims about achievement, South Carolina students still rank at the bottom among states nationwide for two reasons, Butzon said – South Carolina still doesn’t consider it important to give all its students a great education and because we don’t have enough public schools administrators who know what to do to improve education or how to do it.

That should make all the stakeholders ask what’s happening to the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into public education, Butzon said. While legislators constantly seek to add more to the public education budget, students are getting less. The ACT results should be a wake up call, he said.

“There’s no accountability in public education,” Butzon said. “Nobody has to stand before policy makers or funding sources to tell why our students aren’t making progress. We blame it on poverty and other excuses, but our achievement gap really is an opportunity gap. Some students get a great education.”

Hollywood Rep. Robert Brown, reflecting on the test results, asked why South Carolina students are not more proficient in core subjects. Manufacturers locating to the state need an educated and well-trained workforce. Brown said he’s acutely aware of the implications of the ACT results. As a business owner, if a well educated workforce is unavailable, he has two options – close up shop or find workers elsewhere.

He agreed with Butzon who said quality public education and the workforce are tied together. The lack of a locally well-educated, well-trained workforce means business must import its workers. That becomes more expensive for everyone.

“We don’t provide that workforce now and won’t in the future unless we begin to address these deficiencies,” Brown said.

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