More course offerings help brightest students

Beaufort County School District makes right decision to offer more high school-level courses at its middle schools.

newsroom@islandpacket.comMarch 19, 2014 

So much attention is paid to the needs of low-performing students that the needs of high-achieving kids can sometimes be an afterthought.

That's why it's encouraging to see the Beaufort County school board engaging in thoughtful discussions and approving changes that will benefit our brightest students. The board recently agreed to offer more high school-level classes at district middle schools.

High-achieving middle schoolers who are ready for high school-level classes in science and English can take them without leaving their middle school setting. (These student can currently take some high school-level math and foreign language classes.)

The expanded offerings will free up time, most likely in these students' junior and senior years of high school, to take more International Baccalaureate courses and Advanced Placement courses for which they can earn college credit. It also helps mom and dad, who won't have to pay for those courses during the college years.

Seniors will also be encouraged to participate in internships and apprenticeships, helping them choose a career.

The goal is for high school upperclassmen to have a wide range of options and full schedules, said superintendent Jeff Moss, including study programs that will help them earn industrial certifications and college-level classes offered through partnerships with the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry.

We applaud the effort and hope it goes more smoothly than a previous one.

The district offered high school-level courses at its middle schools from 1996 until 2009. But they were discontinued at the urging of then-superintendent Valerie Truesdale, who worried that many students were not making the most of their final year in high school because they already had enough credits to graduate. Some even graduated after their junior year.

The plan Moss and other district officials are working on should keep students engaged and enrolled. It creates myriad post-high school challenges for students who have completed the requirements for a diploma. That's a big improvement over a boring final year of school during which they learn nothing.

Kudos to the school board for its commitment to high achievers.

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