“Success” is relative for York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg.
As reported, release of the SAT scores once again brings bad news for public schools in South Carolina. Average scores are down and gaps between race and income groups continue to widen.
Some parents and lawmakers aren’t concerned, They argue that their public schools in the Upstate and Midlands are bucking the state trend, and earning scores above the national average.
But according to the Department of Education, only seven of eighty five school districts earned average scores above the national average of 1017 points. These are:
YORK 4 – FORT MILL (1,053)
ANDERSON 2 (1,051)
ANDERSON 4 (1,050)
LEXINGTON 1 (1,046)
ANDERSON 1 (1,044)
LEXINGTON/RICHLAND 5 (1,040)
SPARTANBURG 1 (1,038)
ANDERSON 5 (1,019)
That’s great news for white upper middle class parents in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg, right?
No, actually its not.
The reason these seven school seem to be so “exceptional” is that they are being compared to other South Carolina districts. Consider the scores at some of the low-income, rural, and predominantly minority districts:
FLORENCE 4 (787)
CLARENDON 1 (775)
HAMPTON 2 (726)
In this light, when only compared to the Corridor of Shame Districts, white middle class parents in the South Carolina suburbs can selfishly gloat about their “excellent” government schools.
But the sad fact is that kids in York and Anderson wont be competing with students from Allendale and Hampton for entrance into prestigious colleges or high tech jobs. The real competition comes from children with similar backgrounds in other states (not to mention other countries).
Here is a look at average scores from North Carolina:
CHAPEL HILL-CARRBORO (1179)
And from Georgia:
When compared to students with similar backgrounds in other states, the “success” of public school students in South Carolina’s “best” districts melts away. The average difference between Fort Mill SC and Chapel Hill NC is over 120 points!
Anti-school choice activists in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg are trying to capitalize on the failure South Carolina’s worst schools to paint a picture of relative success, but in absolute terms, their children remain the furthest behind.
Students in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg –not to mention Florence, Clarendon and Hampton– deserve much better. Parents across South Carolina should be free to send their children to the best possible school, be it public charter, magnet, homeschool, or independent. Competition among schools means accountability to parents and an atmosphere of innovation. This is the way to raise test scores for all children.