Meeting Street Schools leaders share keys to success in high-poverty schools

August 30, 2016 - MSS In The News

Students sitting outside on a bench working

When interviewing prospective teachers to work at Meeting Street Elementary at Brentwood, a high-poverty North Charleston school run by a public-private partnership, Principal Sarah Campbell asks job-seekers two key questions:

“Do you think that all kids can learn?”

“Do you think that all families care?”

The school sifted through 2,000 applicants for 30 open positions in the fall of this year, and, according to Campbell, the No. 1 reason why teachers didn’t make it past the interview was that they hedged or said no to one of those questions.

“You’d think that those would be pretty simple questions,” Campbell said. “If you’re in education, you should assume that all kids can learn. But there’s a lot of implicit bias in teachers that we’ve found (toward) kids in poverty, kids of color.”

Charleston County school principals and district staff gathered at the district office Monday to hear what was working for Meeting Street Schools, a private group that places two teachers to a classroom and offers an extended school day that lasts until 5:30 p.m. With one private-public school partnership underway at Brentwood and another beginning in the fall with kindergarten students from North Charleston’s struggling Burns Elementary, the district is looking to emulate Meeting Street’s success at traditional neighborhood schools across the county.

At Brentwood, Meeting Street Schools set some ambitious goals for its students, including a goal that 75 percent of students will graduate with Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test scores in the 75th percentile or higher. This spring, with the school serving only pre-kindergarten through second grade students, 67 percent met their growth goals in reading and 73 percent met their growth goals in math.

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