By Rick Brundrett | The Nerve
COLUMBIA — Nearly one-third of school districts with a full-day, 4-year-old program received failing grades at the elementary level, raising questions about the effectiveness of the Child Development Education Pilot Program.
These results come at a time when the South Carolina Supreme Court is again considering a landmark school-funding case that resulted in the creation of the voluntary program.
Since fiscal 2007, the state has spent more than $93 million for the program in 36 poor school districts in South Carolina. The Nerve discovered the 11 failing districts in recently released federal reports.
A superintendent in one of the 36 school districts told The Nerve last week that he was not aware of any in-depth studies on the effectiveness of the program, which enrolled more than 4,700 students statewide last school year, records show.
“Where’s any research that shows us that X amount of money will solve this problem and will give us this result?” said Dillon 3 Superintendent John Kirby.
In fiscal 2011, the General Assembly transferred funding for the evaluation of CDEPP from the state Education Oversight Committee to South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness, which was required to use that money to “serve students, not evaluate the program,” said state Department of Education spokesman Jay Ragley.
“My understanding is there was no evaluation by the EOC of CDEPP beginning in FY 10-11,” Ragley said in a written response last week to The Nerve.