Public education in South Carolina
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- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 School districts
- 12 Education ballot measures
- 13 Recent news
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
- 16 References
List of school districts in South Carolina
Public education in South Carolina
School board elections portal
|“||Our mission is to ensure that every student in South Carolina receives an education that meets their individual needs, while also preparing them to be contributing members of society. We work closely with students, parents, teachers, staff, school districts, government officials, and the media to facilitate the best possible education for South Carolina’s students.||”|
The Superintendent of Education is responsible generally for the administration of the Department of Education. The Superintendent of Education is elected to four-year terms. The current officeholder is Mick Zais.
The South Carolina State Board of Education is the governing body for public elementary and secondary education in the state. The board is composed of 17 members: 16 are appointed from each of the state's judicial circuits by their respective legislative delegations and one is appointed directly by the governor. Members serve four-year terms.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The South Carolina Department of Education initially adopted the standards on July 14, 2010. Full implementation took place during the 2013-2014 academic year.
On May 30, 2014, Governor Nikki Haley (R) signed legislation that removed South Carolina from Common Core. Common Core standards for mathematics and English will remain in place for the 2014-2015 academic year, but new standards will be written and implemented for the 2015-2016 academic year. Some argued, however, that the substance of the new state-drafted standards would differ little from the Common Core standards. State Senator Brad Hutto (D) said, "The spin is that we did away with, abolished, Common Core. We didn't do anything this year other than move up in time the cyclical review, probably to the detriment of the review."
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how South Carolina compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in South Carolina as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for South Carolina's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. students||840||0.12%||0.42%|
|Two or more||19,615||2.70%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in South Carolina attend rural schools. Approximately 58 percent of the state's students attend rural or town schools, compared to approximately 42 percent who attend city or suburban schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee), South Carolina has the smallest share of fourth grade students who scored at or above proficient in both math and reading.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for South Carolina was lower than the national average at 2.8 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 2.5 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in South Carolina
School choice options in South Carolina include: charter schools, a tax incentive program, inter-district open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 7.46 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: South Carolina state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 15.9 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 2.9 percentage points, or 15.4 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 18.8 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in South Carolina totaled approximately $7.8 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for South Carolina and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in South Carolina totaled approximately $7.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for South Carolina and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in South Carolina, the average salary decreased by 2.8 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. South Carolina ranked 49th overall, or "weakest," which was in the fifth of five tiers.
List of local South Carolina school unions:
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the South Carolina School Boards Association.
The South Carolina House of Representatives rejected a proposal in March 2010 that would have prohibited school districts from using taxpayer money to fund government sector lobbying associations. Representative Boyd Brown introduced the budget amendment, which would have eliminated government sector lobbying and prohibited the use of tax dollars for dues at any "organization which employs a lobbyist." The bill failed on March 18, 2010 by one vote.
"South Carolina Spending Transparency" is the transparency website sponsored by the state. It discloses information about South Carolina's spending and is managed by the Comptroller General. Then-Governor Mark Sanford signed South Carolina Executive Order 2007-14, which mandated the creation of the website, on August 30, 2007.
Studies and reports
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
South Carolina received a score of 72.6, or a C average in the "chance for success" category. This was below the national average. The state's highest score was in "standards, assessments and accountability" at 94.4, or an A average. The lowest score was in "K-12 achievement" at 62.6, or a D average. South Carolina had the highest score in the "standards, assessments and accountability" category when compared to neighboring states. The chart below displays the scores of South Carolina and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|South Carolina||72.6 (C)||62.6 (D)||94.4 (A)||89.0 (B+)||68.7 (D+)||71.4 (C-)|
|Georgia||73.9 (C)||70.7 (C-)||91.1 (A-)||79.8 (B-)||71.6 (C-)||100.0 (A)|
|North Carolina||75.7 (C)||69.8 (C-)||92.8 (A)||77.8 (C+)||67.0 (D+)||85.7 (B)|
|Tennessee||73.9 (C)||68.8 (D+)||90.0 (A-)||80.3 (B-)||64.5 (D)||92.9 (A)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
- See also: School board elections portal
The following table displays the state's top 10 school districts by total student enrollment:
School board composition
South Carolina school board members are generally elected by residents of the school district, although some school board members are appointed to fill vacancies until the next election for the seat is held. South Carolina school board elections typically follow one of these two methods:
- At-large: All voters residing in the school district may vote for any candidates running, regardless of geographic location.
- Trustee area at-large: All voters residing in the school district may vote for any candidates running, but candidates must reside in specific geographic areas within the school district.
School boards can consists of five, seven or nine members. Board members serve terms of two, three or four years.
South Carolina does not impose statewide term limits on school board members. However, terms limits on school board members can still be imposed on the local level.
- See also: South Carolina school board elections, 2014 and South Carolina school board elections, 2015
Here are several quick facts about South Carolina's school board elections in 2015:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Spartanburg County School District 6 with 11,023 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Spartanburg School District 2 with 10,074 K-12 students.
- Spartanburg School District 2 has the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with five seats up for election.
- Spartanburg County School District 6 has the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with four seats up for election.
The districts listed below served 21,097 K-12 students during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district names for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2015 South Carolina School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Spartanburg County School District 6||11/3/2015||4||9||11,023|
|Spartanburg School District 2||11/3/2015||5||9||10,074|
Path to the ballot
To qualify for the ballot as a school board candidate in South Carolina, a person must be:
- 18 years of age or older
- A resident of the school district at the time of the election
Candidates file nominating petitions with county elections officials at least 75 days prior to the election. A valid petition features signatures from district residents totaling at least 5 percent of registered voters in the school district.
State law requires local candidates to file campaign finance reports with the South Carolina State Ethics Commission. The first report for a school board candidate is due within 10 days of receiving or spending $500 in campaign funds. Candidates who do not receive or spend $500 are required to file pre-election reports within 15 days of the election. The maximum contribution amount in an election cycle for local candidates is $1,000 per person.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "South Carolina + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- South Carolina state budget and finances
- South Carolina Department of Education
- List of school districts in South Carolina
- School choice in South Carolina
- Charter schools in South Carolina
- South Carolina
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- South Carolina Department of Education
- South Carolina Superintendent of Education
- South Carolina State Board of Education
- South Carolina Virtual School
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- South Carolina State Department of Education, "About Us," accessed June 4, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- South Carolina State Department of Education, "State Superintendent of Education Duties," accessed June 4, 2014
- South Carolina Constitution, "Article VI, Section 7," accessed June 4, 2014
- South Carolina State Department of Education, "State Board of Education," accessed June 4, 2014
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed June 12, 2014
- South Carolina State Department of Education, "Common Core State Standards," accessed June 17, 2014
- Education Week, "Common Core standards could change little," June 16, 2014
- The Washington Post, "Two more states pull out of Common Core," June 5, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- South Carolina Education Association, "Main Page," accessed April 22, 2010
- Center for Union Facts, "South Carolina teachers unions," accessed April 22, 2010
- Fits News, "Effort To Ban Taxpayer-Funded Educrat Lobbying Fails," March 22, 2010
- Watchdog, "SC Schools Spent More Than $1.5 Million on Lobbying," September 14, 2010
- The Nerve, "SC Schools Spent More Than $1.5 Million on Lobbying," September 14, 2010
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- South Carolina State Department of Education, "School Directory," accessed July 10, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed July 11, 2014
- South Carolina State Election Commission, "So You Want To Be A Candidate," accessed July 9, 2014
- South Carolina State Ethics Commission, "Campaign Practices," July 9, 2014
State of South Carolina
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