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The Beaufort County School District says it plans to get tougher on enforcing its policy to improve the grades of student athletes.
Athletics directors at Beaufort County high schools are required to begin sending reports on the academic progress of athletes to the school district's central office by the end of this year's winter sports season. The policy also applies to students involved in extracurricular activities
Three times a year, at the end of each athletic season, each high school will submit a report detailing whether mandatory study halls and tutoring for failing students helped improve their grades, said Sean Alford, the district's instructional services chief.
A standard reporting method will ensure all schools are charting student progress the same way, he said.
Alford met with principals and athletics directors this month to identify ways to improve enforcement of a policy adopted last year to tighten academic standards for athletes and other students involved in extracurricular activities.
The meeting was prompted by an online survey of 100 Beaufort County high school employees that indicated the policy had not been applied uniformly in all schools, or throughout all teams and other extracurricular groups.
"We re-established the fact that athletics directors in those high schools are directly responsible for seeing through the implementation of the policy," he said. Alford said their responsibility will extend to non-athletic extracurricular groups.
The policy, adopted by the school board in 2008, requires all high school students involved in extracurricular activities to turn in biweekly grade reports. Students who have a 76 average or lower in any class will be required to attend tutoring sessions.
Jerry Linn, athletics director at Beaufort High, said players with an average of 76 or below will be identified at the beginning of each sports season. At the end of the season, he and other athletics directors will report whether grades improved.
"This is a way for the Board of Education to see that this policy is actually working," he said.
The policy requires substantial paperwork, including the biweekly grade reports signed by teachers for the hundreds of students involved in extracurricular activities. Students also are required to either sign in or have teachers sign slips showing they attended each after-school tutoring or study hall session.
Lew Kent, athletics director at Hilton Head Island High School, said he expects the amount of paperwork to decrease when the district completes its transition to the Web-based PowerSchool student information system. The technology will allow administrators quick access to grades without relying on the paper reports.