CARVER, S.C. — Anderson High is one of the country’s top-ranked high schools for students with disabilities, but a new survey finds the school is still struggling to get its students into the classroom.
The new CARVE Study, a nationally representative study of students at public high schools, found that the school has just 11 percent of students in classrooms who are able to read and write well.
The rest of the students can read and do some basic math, but are limited to math and English, and need to use a computer for basic tasks like completing a homework assignment.
CARVE says it has identified nearly a dozen high schools across the country where students are “not in classrooms that are safe, accessible or comfortable for students to participate in learning.”
CARVE’s president, Scott Lautens, says there’s no easy fix.
“When we have students in the classrooms who have disabilities and have limited communication skills, it’s very, very challenging to get them into the classrooms and into the learning environment,” he said.
“It’s a very difficult thing to do.”
The study found that students with developmental disabilities, including ADHD, are the most common group of students who are not in classrooms, but that they also are among the least engaged in school, as they struggle to communicate and use the right tools to learn.
Carving has been on a mission to get students in classroom with people like Anderson’s teachers, administrators and administrators in general.
Lautans says the organization has worked closely with the district and the state to make sure the schools can have classrooms and learning environments that students can thrive in.
“We’re always looking to see where we can improve,” Lautins said.
In an email, Anderson Principal David Miller said the school tries to find ways to make classrooms accessible for students.
But the study shows it has a long way to go.
“The CARVE study shows that we still have a long ways to go, and we can and should improve,” he wrote.
“We can do better, but there are a lot of people at CARVE that believe in what we are trying to do, so that’s why we continue.”
Lautens said the goal of the organization is to get CARVE students into classrooms where they can learn, so they can get the most out of their education.
“I know how hard it is to go through school and you feel like you’re not being taken seriously, but you’re doing what you have to do to be successful,” he told The Associated Press.
“That’s the motivation.”
He said CARVE has worked with teachers, students and school administrators to try to help.
“It’s important to us that every child who has a disability is encouraged to get into the schools that are designed for their needs,” Lutens said.
He said the organization doesn’t always succeed.
In 2016, the school found just 6 percent of its students were able to participate properly in classwork.
In the last school year, the percentage was 7 percent.
The CARVE report also found that of the 1,828 students in grades six through 12, less than half had received at least one “high school graduation” certificate in their first two years in the school.
“That’s something that needs to be changed,” Lauts said.
“In terms of the way students are treated, how they are taught, the ways they are mentored, we’re not really seeing the kinds of success we would like.”
Carving is one example of how the nonprofit organization is trying to change the way education is provided to students.
It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Association of State School Administrators and a number of state governments.
Lauts hopes CARVE will be a model for other schools across South Carolina.
“What I’m really excited about is the role CARVE plays in the education of students with learning disabilities,” he added.
The CARVES survey was conducted by CARVE and the National Center for Education Statistics, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia.
It was released Monday.