Center for Inquiry
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Center for Inquiry?

The Center for Inquiry is a K-5 elementary magnet program established in 1996 as a partnership between Richland School District Two and the University of South Carolina. A hallmark of the Center is that all faculty members share the same philosophical approach to teaching and learning. This innovative approach emphasizes hands-on learning experiences and high-interest studies through the use of an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum.
Students and teachers loop for a period of two years. This looping strategy allows students to have the same teacher for grades K/1, for grades 2/3, and for grades 4/5. The Center for Inquiry follows the regular elementary schedule for Richland School District Two and incorporates state and district standards within its curriculum. Weekly classes in art, music, physical education, and technology are also offered. USC interns from the Early Childhood and Elementary programs participate in classrooms on a regular basis offering additional instructional support.

Where is the Center for Inquiry located?

The Center for Inquiry is located on the campus of Summit Parkway Middle School. The Center can be conveniently accessed from Rhame Road or through the Summit Parkway Middle School gym parking lot. Center students eat lunch each day in the Summit Parkway cafeteria and make visits to the Sandhills branch of the Richland County Library monthly.

Who is eligible to apply?

Any child who is eligible to enroll in grades K-5 in Richland School District Two may apply to attend the Center. Applications are accepted during the district online application period.

Who provides transportation?

Because the Center enrolls students from across the district, parents are expected to provide transportation for their children.

Is there an after school program?

AfterCare program is available from 3:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. for a fee.

How are the applicants selected?

All applicants have an equal opportunity to be selected to attend the Center. Selection for the program is completed through a random process beginning shortly after the application period has closed. Selection continues through the first month of school or until all slots in each class have been filled. Students currently enrolled at the Center are guaranteed continued admission in the program. Incoming siblings of students currently enrolled at the Center for Inquiry are given priority status in the random selection process.

What is inquiry-based learning?

Students engage in inquiry when they are invited to pose and investigate questions or issues they find compelling. Through this investigative process, broad themes, concepts, or topics of study emerge with all participants in the classroom functioning as teachers and learners. Teachers align this process with the skills, standards, and goals appropriate for the age level of the students.
Students are encouraged to explore, think, ask questions, and solve problems through the perspectives of mathematicians, scientists, historians, artists, musicians, readers, and writers. The application of these multiple perspectives broadens student knowledge and fosters an appreciation of the disciplines. This effective approach supports and challenges students and provides them with opportunities to develop ownership in their learning. Additionally, strong community bonds are built between students, teachers, and parents of Center families.

What about student assessment?

Rather than traditional report cards, a narrative progress report is used in grades 2-5 to document student growth at the end of the first and third quarters. A second progress report, based on the South Carolina State Curriculum Standards, is provided at the end of the second and fourth quarters. Student-led conferences are conducted annually for parents to highlight academic progress. Grades K/1 use an appropriate literacy assessment along with parent conferences, a mid-year student-led conference, and a final narrative report.

Does the Center for Inquiry have ALERT?

Students at the Center do not participate in the district’s ALERT program. The academic needs of all students are accommodated in each classroom. However, students enrolled in ALERT who transfer to the Center retain their gifted status. Students may also obtain gifted status during their enrollment at the Center.

How can I get additional information about the Center for Inquiry?

Parents interested in applying to the Center are strongly encouraged to attend an Information Session and participate in the Visitation Time set aside for prospective parents.