Spartanburg Academic Movement and partners reach important milestone for work in shifting public funding, ensuring more kids are ready for kindergarten
CINCINNATI, OH — StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to improve education for every child, today named Spartanburg County, S.C., as the eighth community to receive the highest designation for achieving better results for children and youth using a data-driven approach.
Through the work of Spartanburg Academic Movement and its partners, achievements and significant changes in the community include:
- Equitable shifts in public funding. The Spartanburg County Council changed how it allocates tax revenue to school districts. Now, when a major industrial entity comes to the county, the home district receives 30 percent of the tax revenue, while the remaining 70 percent is distributed among the other six districts. Previously, the home district received all the tax revenue from the project.
- More kids ready for kindergarten. Through a block grant from South Carolina’s Education Oversight Committee, two of the school districts are improving kindergarten readiness by working with Quality Counts, an organization focused on preschool quality improvement. Kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds show several areas grew more than 75 percent, including language and literacy, learning activities and interactions.
- A consistent kindergarten readiness tool. Lacking a consistent measurement for kindergarten readiness, one school district piloted the Early Development Instrument, a population measure of child development and school readiness. After seeing its benefits, the six other districts adopted the EDI as their kindergarten readiness measurement tool.
- Access to student-level data. Spartanburg Academic Movement has built trust with seven school districts. Now, a countywide data-sharing agreement gives Spartanburg Academic Movement and schools access to all student-level data to help the most vulnerable children. During the year, 20 students transfer between the highest-poverty elementary schools; now, teachers can use data to support them as soon as they enter their new classroom.
Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network like Spartanburg County commit to improving results for major milestones in a child’s life. They receive this top designation when they prove systems are changing and a majority of outcomes are improving or being maintained year after year. Progress is measured along a cradle-to-career continuum, from kindergarten readiness through postsecondary completion and employment.
“Since joining the Cradle to Career Network in 2013, Spartanburg Academic Movement has been a champion for children in Spartanburg County,” said StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz. “Through Spartanburg Academic Movement’s leadership and hard work, partners from business, government, education and nonprofits are making measurable differences for students and families. The Network’s approach to improving education is getting results across the country, and Spartanburg County is clearly part of that success story.”
Spartanburg County is seeing improvements across four of the six StriveTogether cradle-to-career outcomes being tracked by Spartanburg Academic Movement. The community reached this milestone through the hard work of local partners and participation in StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund, a three-year accelerator program that combines intensive leadership development with technical assistance and financial support. Spartanburg County is the first community in the program’s second cohort to earn this designation.
“This top designation from StriveTogether is of great importance,” Spartanburg Academic Movement Executive Director John Stockwell said. “It not only acknowledges our work — it recognizes the progress of our entire county toward shared goals of improved academic achievement. This has been accomplished with the deep dedication of our public schools and multiple community partners. Consistently improving outcomes year to year will require sharper focus on the economic mobility of all students and families across boundaries of region, race and income — a focus embedded within our ongoing efforts across Spartanburg County.”
The other seven communities with this top designation are Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (StrivePartnership); Dallas County, Texas (The Commit Partnership); Dayton/Montgomery County, Ohio (Learn to Earn Dayton); Portland/Multnomah County, Ore. (All Hands Raised); Racine County, Wis. (Higher Expectations for Racine County); Shelby County, Tenn. (Seeding Success); and Tacoma, Wash. (Graduate Tacoma).
StriveTogether leads a national movement of 70 communities to get better results in every child’s life. We coach and connect partners across the country to close gaps by using local data, especially for children of color and low-income children. Communities using our proven approach have seen measurable gains in kindergarten readiness, academic achievement and postsecondary success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.4 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington, D.C.
About Spartanburg Academic Movement
Spartanburg Academic Movement is an “all-in partnership” of schools and colleges, businesses, governments, foundations, faith communities and individuals across Spartanburg County in pursuit of high levels of academic achievement.