By Al Dozier

Teachers in Lexington-Richland District 5 are now participating in a new state-recommended program designed to assess a teacher’s professional practice to help improve the classroom instruction performance.

The District 5 board received a report on the Standards 4.0 Rubric program at its August 19 meeting.

It’s the name for an education support program adopted by the state with specific feedback related to professional practice. The program originated from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) Teaching Standards 4.0 rubric.

A working group of education stakeholders from across the state identified the program as a tool that provides a common language for educator professional growth and development, providing relevant feedback necessary to build effective instructional leaders and college- and career-ready students.

District administrators have already been trained for the program, which began development in 2016-2017.

District officials said they have already received positive feedback from the program, which provides for expert evaluations at different levels.

Benefits of the program include: support for continuous improvement of instruction; clear, timely and useful feedback for educators; alignment with the profile of the South Carolina Graduate; and establishing a connection between teacher practice and student learning.

The board also received a report on a bridge program designed to help high school students who have not been successful in the traditional academic settings. The program partners with community organizations to help students improve their academic needs.

The board also heard a report on upgraded mental health services in the district designed to identify and treat behavioral issues. The new program includes the addition of mental health specialists on the district staff and partnerships with community mental health services.

Board member Jan Hammond said she is excited the district is addressing such sensitive issues.

“People don’t like to talk about mental health,” she said.

The board heard positive comments from Superintendent Christina Melton on back-to-school events, and on the districts recent rankings.

In its 2020 Best Schools in America rankings, Lexington-Richland School District Five was named the number one school district in South Carolina by

 The website ranks more than 10,000 public school districts based on statistics and millions of opinions from students and parents. Along with its top overall ranking, District Five was also ranked as the number one school district in South Carolina with the best teachers. It was ranked second in the state for best places to teach.

Melton said the district held a successful shower for first-year teachers.

The First in Five Teacher Shower event was the idea of a committee of district staff and current teachers who wanted to celebrate the district’s new first-year teachers, while also welcoming them to School District Five and getting them prepared to start the new school year. August 13 was the first day back for teachers in the district. Students return August 21.

The District’s Back to School Bash, held August 19, was also a successful event attracting a large group of students to Saluda Shoals Park.

Sponsored by several different community groups, the event included face painting, health screenings and safety demonstrations from the Irmo Fire Department and Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. Free school supplies were also made available.

The board also heard a positive report on the district’s free farmers market, a team project with W.P. Rawl & Sons that benefits families in need throughout the summer with free produce.

The board also recognized student participants in the district’s Boys State and Girls State programs.