Feds: 80% of South Carolina Public Schools Failing

After a year of poor SAT scores and bottom-line PACT proficiency, news of an across-the-board drop in the number of schools making “Adequate Yearly Progress” is just bad icing on an already inedible cake.

Parents have already had to hear that even the best performing school districts in South Carolina are still hundreds of points below public schools in North Carolina. Now, figures from the State Department of Education show that only 1 out of every 5 schools in South Carolina met goals for “Adequate Yearly Progress.”

Of all the public schools in South Carolina, only a pitiful 18% managed to meet federally-defined Adequate Yearly Progress Goals for 2008. That breaks down to 715 of the state’s 875 elementary and middle schools failing to meet their goals! Of the 200 high schools in the state, 165 failed to meet their AYP goals.

Ever a rock in time of crisis, the SC Department of Education has jumped to pawn off this latest failure as nothing more than the natural result of having high academic standards! That’s right, according to our resident architects of underperformance at the SDE, consistently failing to educate children is actually a sign of an appropriately rigorous educational environment.

In the SDE press release announcing this newest low, Superintendent Jim Rex “noted that other states are seeing the same downward trends with AYP. “But it’s more dramatic here in South Carolina because our standards for proficiency are higher,” he said. ” In other states, it’s easier to clear the bar.”

The hypocrisy of this statement is appalling. Rex has spent the last year expending every shred of political capital he can muster to water down state accountability standards. Now he wants to shirk any responsibility for failing to meet the goals that the State Department of Education’s bureaucrats set for South Carolina in the first place!

What’s more, the standards were established seven years ago in 2001, when the NCLB law was passed. The public schools have had seven years to meet the benchmarks, but 4-in-5 failed to do so.

Jim Rex putting a good face on failure is not going to help students in South Carolina get into good colleges, or help them land the type of high-paying jobs the state’s economy so desperately needs. Rex has claimed to care about making the state’s public schools competitive on a national and international scale. The posturing, blame shifting, and begging for more money that has characterized his administration’s response to underachievement has South Carolina no closer to meeting those goals than before he took office.  As student achievement in other states, and around the world, continues to climb, students in South Carolina fall further behind.


34 responses to “Feds: 80% of South Carolina Public Schools Failing

  1. Allowing school districts to self report on various areas of progress offer s a lot of misleading documentation. Our SC school district denied my son a Free Education for multiple school years. We never filed a law suit or filed due process. The school district has spent thousands and thousands of education funds on their attorney, who in effect assisted in denial of educational services for my child. The attorney offered no academic benefit for my child. The only thing I am surprised to see is that this deficit was not able to be falsified.

  2. The sad thing is how totally unsurprising this type of massive failure is.

  3. SouthKak GOPer

    If either Jim Rex or Inez Tenenbaum have had any lingering and unfounded hope for running as gubernatorial candidates next cycle, this should drive the final nail in that proverbial coffin!

  4. Seven years to meet benchmarks? I’m sure there will be numerous “legitimate” reasons why 7 years later most schools aren’t meeting them! How long do these people expect parents to wait to see some results?

  5. Fewer SC schools meet raised federal targets (link)

    …”When four-in-five public schools are failing to meet minimum progress goals we are in big trouble,” said Randy Page, president of South Carolinians for Responsible Government, which has fought for years for private school vouchers. “Now the politicians and bureaucrats in Columbia are blaming everyone but themselves.”

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  8. Midnight Writer

    We aren’t even adequate?


    It just dawned on me. The Department of Education’s acronym is DOE. In light of today’s news, that sounds like an “adequate” description. After all, its collective view of our educational system seems more like a deer caught in headlights than educators trying to fix a broken system.

  9. One of the main problems with NCLB is that it compares apples to pine trees–as in totally meaningless statistics.

    Rex is totally correct in saying South Carolina has one of the two toughest proficiency standards in the nation. That is entirely admirable and should be taken into account when comparing our schools with those in other states. It has absolutely no effect when comparing schools within the state, however.

    The problem is that over 50% of our students drop out because they have no hope of ever meeting those standards. There are no rigorous after school tutoring programs, no funded options for failing students to get private tutoring and only this year have the schools in Florence addressed the drop-out problem.


    How many private schools did not meet AYP GOALS ????Do private schools have test goals that the public can see????.

  11. John,

    Private schools answer to parents, not the government. The public is able to see the dramatically superior ACT and SAT scores of private school students. Not only that, with an average tuition of around $4,000 per student, private schools are able to do this on half, a third, or even a quarter of what the state spends.

  12. The interesting thing is that I, as a private school parent, receive my child’s test scores from my local Christian school. The school tests each child each year with the STANFORD test that shows me how my child compares with children from across the nation. Our private school also tells us – and uses the statistics in marketing materials – what our school’s average SAT and ACT scores are for their graduates.

  13. I am new to this state. My school research showed me there are pockets of very good schools in the state. I also believe strongly that education has to be valued by the family for the child to succeed. I know I don’t rely solely on any school or government entity to take charge of my childs education, it’s a joint effort. I’d like to ask long time residents and parents of SC students what they believe can be done to correct the failing schools?

  14. One of the best things we could do, would be to throw off the yoke of Government subsidies. I still have faith that if segregated from the Federal Government funds, South Carolinians could better handle the school problems if we weren’t loaded down with government rules and under the controling factor of the Department of Education.
    Of course it would mean a loss of some monies, but look at the private schools who operate on half of what we now operate on.

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  17. Give me a fraction of what the state spends on my child in public school, and I’ll send him to a private school where he can make more than “adequate progress!”

  18. Mari

    It is obvious that SC schools are torn between special educaton and regular education.

    Programs strive for excellence in regular education but strive for the minimum required by law in special education.

    SC schools should contract special services to organiztions that specialize in this area. This would be a win win.
    Children in special educaiton programs would benefit from programs geared to teach them to be successful and the public schools can focus their efforts and resources on the general population.

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  30. Does anyone know how much South Carolina currently spends on the TERI program each year?

    Are these funds dispursed from Education funds?

    I suspect that the overspending is a partial result of school districts beig allowed to modify data on reports provided to the SCDOE.

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