Tag Archives: education week

South Carolina High School Graduation Rates

school choice south carolina

How many children drop out of school in South Carolina?”
“What is the graduation rate in South Carolina high schools?”
“How many students in OUR school district will graduate from high school?…”

(HINT: Scroll down and find out!)

It is hard to get a straight answer when it comes to questions about graduates and dropouts in South Carolina’s public schools.

A recent report indicates that in the senior class of 2008-09, only 42,947 (or 66.3% of those enrolled in 9th grade four years earlier) graduated public high school with an earned diploma. In other words, 1-in-3 students (or 122 pupils each day) dropped out, were held back, or failed to complete the full diploma requirements

Already some in the media are raising questions about the validity of so-called “statewide gains” and the wide disparity between numbers cited by Jim Rex, those reported in the Education Week report, and the figures publicly available on the US Department of Education’s website.

The State Newspaper (6/9) reported:

The on-time graduation rate reported by Education Week and the State Department of Education differ, and there’s no clear consensus on why.

The Anderson Independent Mail (6/9) reported:

…But, those [Education Week] figures are misleading, said Jim Foster, spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Education. The graduation rates in Education Week are estimates that over the years have resulted in disparities from one report to the next, he said.

The Greenwood Today (6/9) reported:

The graduation figures in the Education Week publication, seen as a national standard for K12 education policy and assessment, vary greatly from higher numbers released by the South Carolina State Department of Education.

Attention is also being drawn to that fact that South Carolina has not released district-specific graduation levels since the 2004-05 school year for the federal government’s uniform rankings. In that 2004-05 school year, the statewide graduation rate was 52.23%.

The graduation rate varied from 87% in York District 4 to 29% in Lee County School District.

Thankfully, these figures can be found in Common Core of Data section of the US DOE website.

Below is a district-by-district list of enrollment and diplomas numbers for the South Carolina public high school class of 2005 drawn from the Federally reported data (again, this is the most recent year for which detailed data -not estimates and averages- is available):


64,027 (9th Graders enrolled in 2001-2)

38,657 (12th Graders in 2004-5)

33,439 (Diplomas issued in 2004-5)

52.23% (% of 9th graders who graduated in 4 school years)


348 (9th Graders enrolled in 2001-2)

Continue reading


SC Education Reform News and Views

muckraker cartoon

Editors at the Charleston Post and Courier blast Jim Rex for offering platitudes, not real reform of failing school systems:

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex describes some of the state’s initiatives today in a column on our Commentary page.

They include identifying and helping students at risk of dropping out, providing on-line learning and involving parents in developing an education plan for each child.

Notably, he doesn’t say what educators have said for too long — that systemic changes will take years, and that citizens should just be patient.

To the contrary, Dr. Rex says, “South Carolina’s on-time graduation rate … is among the most urgent problems facing our state in terms of both human potential and future prosperity.”

Our recent reports on reading problems in Charleston County schools cited the experience of Ridge Smith, who made it all the way to the ninth grade in Charleston County schools while reading at a third-grade level. Patience isn’t the answer to that kind of problem.

Ron Barnett of the Greenville News reports on the funding fight between high-dollar bureaucrats and classroom teachers: Continue reading

K12 News and Policy Roundup


With the start of South Carolina’s legislative session looming, journalists across the state are focusing on K-12 education. That’s because spending on public education (averaging $11,480 per student last year) is the largest single item in the state’s budget. “Public Education” (often confused with the narrower concept of “public schools”) is also a big concern for parents, businessmen and community leaders, all of whom are concerned with inequity and under-performance in South Carolina’s public schools. Among the themes recently reported on:

BUDGET WOES: The already tense debate over budget balancing and spending efficiency is becoming more contentious. The State Newspaper recounted a war of words between State Superintendent Jim Rex and fellow Democrat Representative Harry Ott. Rex wanted a salary freeze for teachers and bus mechanics, Ott wondered why Rex was not willing to cut his own staff before slowing pay adjustments for classroom teachers.

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Orangeburg Times and Democrat critically examined the ongoing debate over a bill (and possible constitutional amendment) pushing for a re-write of state educational mandates. The Spartanburg Herald Journal sternly editorialized against the proposal. Continue reading

Ed Week: South Carolina earns “D” for public school achievement


Education Week has just released its annual 50-state K-12 education report card.

The nonprofit group (funded by the left-leaning Pew Foundation) publishes this apples-to-apples comparison of public schools each year in order to track student achievement and compare educational effectiveness.

Sadly, South Carolina’s public schools are once again poorly ranked.

Among the highlights:

South Carolina public schools earned a “D” for student achievement (again)

and a “D-” for spending practices (despite over $11,480 in per student allocation)

also a “D-” for college readiness

and worst of all, an “F” for the absolute status of K-12 Achievement

Still, the spin from South Carolina’s highly funded State Department of Education follow shortly. Continue reading

Not News: South Carolina standards among nation’s lowest

Quality Counts.jpg
Totally missed the mark? No problem, because we had a great target!

Parents across South Carolina were shocked to hear 82 percent of public schools failed to meet federal AYP performance goals this year.

Rather than rigorously investigate this shameful (but well-financed failure) journalists and editors across the state often choose to re-print Department of Education issued talking points that bizarrely mis-characterize the problem as “progress.”

Many papers repeated some out-of-context findings of Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” study, in the hopes of blaming low AYP marks on so-called high standards. The report is often mentioned by State Superintendent Jim Rex in his political posturing.

But it seems South Carolina’s lazy reporters have not actually read the report themselves!

Otherwise they would know that despite the talk of “high standards,” South Carolina’s public schools earned an “F” for K-12 Achievement Status, and a “D” average for achievement status, change and equity. Continue reading