HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The 2022-2023 South Carolina school report cards show that 79% of schools in Horry County received a rating of “excellent” or “good.”

That’s a 20% increase from last year.

While each school focuses on different aspects based on where their students are in their education, the main goal of preparing them for success remains the same.

“An excellent reading on the state report card was just the icing on the cake,” said Demetrius Williams, Early College High School principal. “But that was not what motivated us.”

Williams said they received their score of 84 by helping their students be the best version of themselves and getting them ready for life after school.

The report cards are required for all South Carolina public elementary, middle and high schools.

Schools are issued overall ratings on a 100-point scale on multiple factors including achievement, student progress and preparing for success.

Carolina Forest Elementary School principal, Dennis Devorick, said one way they received their “excellent” score of 75 is by making school fun.

“I want kids to be as excited to come to school as going to Disneyland. If they go to Disney maybe once in a lifetime, they come to school every day for 13 years,” Devorick said. “We do that by creating an environment where kids want to learn and thrive in a fun way. And they meet the goals and exceed them.”

Devorick also said improving school performance begins with understanding the conditions, successes and challenges of each student.

Ocean Bay Middle School principal, Marcus Timmons, said they were able to receive their “excellent” score of 74 by focusing on the school’s culture.

“Well, basically, what we wanted to do was create an atmosphere where excellence is part of our culture,” Timmons said. “We wanted to talk with our kids about small goals and what they need to do daily in order to achieve long-term results.”

One area of decline, though, was with Horry County Schools graduates who were considered college or career-ready. About 2,305, or 65.5% of graduates were marked as college or career-ready, which is down 7.2% from last year.

Just two of the 56 schools in the district received a below average score, including Bridgewater Elementary School and Loris High School.

Academy of Hope Elementary received an “unsatisfactory” score of 23, the lowest in the district.

Across the state, 22.5% of schools received an overall rating of “excellent.”

The South Carolina Department of Education called it the highest rating in the states’ education accountability system.

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Savannah Denton joined News 13 in July 2023 as a reporter and producer. Savannah is from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. Follow Savannah on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here