South Carolina’s Kershaw County is a rural area boasting rich Revolutionary War history and the revered annual Carolina Cup steeplechase event. Spread over 750 square miles, an area larger than the city of Houston, the county has 20 school sites and 11,500 students.
Despite the challenges of operating a rural school system―especially during a global pandemic―Kershaw County School District (KCSD) is a vibrant and modern learning community with a strong focus on student achievement.
At the height of the pandemic, KCSD implemented creative solutions to help teachers personalize student learning and navigate in-person, hybrid, and remote instruction. Lavoy Carter, the district’s director for Data Science and Predictive Analytics, notes that the pandemic accelerated the need for teachers to have a “one-stop-shop” for digital instructional resources to implement personalized learning strategies. In fact, even before the start of the pandemic in 2020, KCSD was recognized as a National Exemplar in Personalized Learning by the National Council on Digital Convergence―one of only 23 districts in the country to receive this award.1
Personalized learning provides students with opportunities to learn at their own pace and for educators to “map out what each child needs to learn, measure what [the child] already knows, and then create the optimal path for him or her to learn the rest,” according to longtime education and edtech reporter Benjamin Herold of EducationWeek.2
In 2021 Kershaw County families had a choice of face-to-face instruction, synchronous virtual instruction, and asynchronous, self-paced instruction. KCSD was the first South Carolina district to provide individual devices to all high school students and is now 1:1 at every grade level. During the pandemic, the right portfolio of instructional and assessment resources was key to flexibility and scalability: Edmentum, NWEA MAP Growth, and Learning Explorer were the main learning solutions. The district also adopted the Canvas learning management system.
Says Carter, “we chose Learning Explorer as our learning object repository to provide a one-stop resource for lesson planning and delivery. Instead of scouring the internet for resources, teachers can select educator-curated resources which have already been vetted―this saves time and supports personalized learning strategies.”
Access to a library of high-quality multimedia resources has boosted educators’ ability to differentiate instruction, target specific resources to individual students based on their needs, and personalize the learning experience.
And access to digital instructional resources didn’t end when schools returned to in-person learning. Providing a centralized platform of curated instructional resources has become the backbone of the district’s digital ecosystem.
Says Carter, “teachers appreciate that learning resources and activities in the Learning Explorer platform are aligned to the South Carolina learning standards. Teachers can collaborate with peers across the district by sharing lessons and resource collections, building on other teachers’ expertise.”
Success can be seen in the data. In 2021 nearly 90% of students graduated from high school and historically more than 90% of graduates attend college, join the military or enter the workforce. The district regularly achieves test scores among the top ten districts in the state.3
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1WLTX, February 7, 2020, “Kershaw County Schools Recognized as National Exemplar District in Personalized Learning” wltx.com
2EducationWeek, November 5, 2019, Herold, Benjamin: “What is Personalized Learning” edweek.org
3South Carolina Department of Education “South Carolina School Report Card” ed.sc.gov