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ALL4SC - The Accelerator for Learning and Leadership for South Carolina

ALL4SC marshals resources from the entire university in order to address the serious challenges facing South Carolina’s highest-need school communities — accelerating economic mobility and academic achievement while also helping young people and their families live better lives.

The Accelerator for Learning and Leadership for South Carolina (ALL4SC) will challenge the University of South Carolina to become the national leader in gathering all of its assets to serve high need school communities, as defined by students, educators, and community members. ALL4SC, funded by the University’s Excellence Initiative, is one of eight research and outreach programs designed to spur creativity inside of  UofSC and help people lead better lives across the state.

To learn more about our work and our first year, please see our Year One Report [pdf], policy brochure [pdf], and UofSC briefs [pdf].


A New Approach

Over the last several decades U.S. PK-12 education policies have focused primarily on accelerating academic achievement by tightening curriculum, deploying new technologies, investing in professional development programs, and intensifying teacher evaluation. However, across the nation student test score results continue to lag. In addition, schools are not organized to serve every student well. These shortcomings call for a shift from reformation to transformation. This is the vision for ALL4SC.

ALL4SC is not a program. It is a comprehensive strategy that aligns evidence-based policies and practices with people and programs to accelerate economic mobility and academic achievement for the young people of South Carolina. The ambitious vision of ALL4SC has been embraced by 12 academic and professional units at the UofSC – committed to creating a coherent strategy to close achievement and opportunity gaps, preparing every PK-12 student with world-class knowledge, skills, and dispositions, as defined by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.

We are also proud to announce a new partnership between Sanford Programs at National University and United Way of the Midlands. This partnership will provide social-emotional learning and supports to partner districts. This partnership is foundational to the development of a cross-sector professional learning community, connecting educators, youth service providers and others around a cohesive strategy for supporting the social and emotional needs of South Carolina's youth. To learn more about this professional learning community, see our SEL brief [pdf].

A Theory of Change: From Reformation to Transformation

A growing number of communities in our state are losing industries and jobs, while facing a dire teacher shortage. Statewide trends reveal that average reading scores in 2019 were lower than in 2017 in 17 states at grade 4 — and in 31 states at grade 8; South Carolina is one of those states not making progress. UofSC wants to change this trajectory by igniting change from inside of our communities. Building on what is already working, ALL4SC seeks to bring together key players - from students, teachers and church leaders to researchers, business owners and lawmakers.

The Obstacle

 It is increasingly clear that K-12 schools alone cannot meet every challenge facing students. And the profession of teaching is not well designed for the opportunities and challenges that public-school educators face. Education research has shown how individual programs and reforms can enhance opportunities for many children, and that many of these interventions have proven that intellect and achievement know no ZIP code. However, a schools-only approach to improving teaching and learning will not help all students be ready for college and the jobs of a global, information-age economy.

Four Pillars

To implement transformative practices in schools and communities in South Carolina, ALL4SC is grounded in four pillars of work:

  • PILLAR ONE: community-based schooling that integrates the academic, social and health needs of students
  • PILLAR TWO: innovative approaches to educator recruitment, preparation and retention
  • PILLAR THREE: leadership development for more effective system of education from early childhood through college; and
  • PILLAR FOUR: journalism and storytelling to inform and inspire innovations for a coherent system of teaching, learning, and caring.

This is not another program or a standalone research center, but rather a catalyst for developing systems and more effective approaches to serving students and the educators who work with them every day.

Jon Pedersen, College of Education dean

Our first partner community

In Fall 2019, the work began in Fairfield County, South Carolina. The community has a very strong ethos of family and caring educators, but the specific needs of students— from undiagnosed and untreated chronic diseases to hunger to poor vision and dental care— are not systematically addressed. Although only 35 miles from Columbia, too many students and their families do not have the opportunity to see what they can become in the global economy and how they can be part of the revitalization of a rural community.

The school district’s superintendent, J.R. Green (B.A. '91, M.A. '94 and Ph.D '00), believes that improving student achievement is not the sole responsibility of schools, but instead requires input and change by the entire community.

"If the students improve their academic performance, graduate and attend post-secondary education but are not able to return home to work because of a lack of job opportunities, then our community will not grow and prosper. The ALL4SC initiative is exciting because it advocates for a community-wide effort, not just a schoolhouse effort.”

J.R. Green, Fairfield County School District Superintendent

Year One

Over the past 12 months, ALL4SC has worked with partners in Fairfield, UofSC, United Way of the Midlands, and others across the Midlands region to better understand the existing needs in the county. These include:

  • a clear definition of the challenges they face;
  • a catalogue of the resources and assets that already exists to support PK-12 students, and children birth to age 5;
  • development of tools and processes to align people, data, evidence and money so all students can receive the support they need; and,
  • development and launch of a communications strategy to engage practitioners, policymakers and the public about what works and why — and what needs to be done next.

"Everything that needs to be done to serve children, their families and communities is already being done somewhere,” “However, no state has put all the pieces of the puzzle together; we can do this in South Carolina.”

"Everything that needs to be done to serve children, their families and communities is already being done somewhere,” “However, no state has put all the pieces of the puzzle together; we can do this in South Carolina.”

Barnett Berry, founding director of ALL4SC and  research professor in the College of Education.

During our Year One efforts of learning and designing strategies with our partners, COVID-19 and the subsequent school closures turned everyone’s professional and personal worlds upside-down. The attention of Fairfield educators shifted to tasks of:

  • Feeding 2,600 students who rely a great deal on school meals,
  • Jump-starting an online learning program in a rural county of over 700 square miles with little broadband access, and
  • Addressing acute social, emotional, and mental needs for so many high need students in the face of social distancing.

While in the thick of the COVID-19 crisis, we continue to work with our partners in Fairfield, at UofSC and across the nation. To accelerate our economic recovery and address gross health disparities in the wake of the pandemic, universities must serve as a catalyst for a Zero (prenatal) to Workforce strategy and a coherent system of teaching, learning and caring.


Years Two-Five

As we move into the next phase of work, ALL4SC will deepen partnerships, refine approaches, engage in research, propose new forms of accountability for schooling, communicate results and support efforts by other partners across the state.

By the fifth year, ALL4SC will develop a financial and organizational model for interdisciplinary, university-wide collaboration that extends to UofSC’s system campuses and its highest-need school/community partners.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.