BARNWELL COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – On Tuesday morning, the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina Education Oversight Committee unveiled South Carolina’s annual school report cards. These report cards provide insights into the state’s educational progress. 

The report cards assess various aspects, including student success and school quality. Officials say approximately 22.5% of South Carolina schools received an “excellent” rating, marking a 2.5% increase from the previous school year.

Officials marked the release of the report cards with a news conference at Kelly Edwards Elementary School in Williston. The school achieved an “excellent” rating last school year. 

Before the pandemic, the school received “unsatisfactory” and “below average” ratings. State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver said the success story is attributed to having a great principal and providing teachers with high-quality instructional materials.

Kelly Edwards School Principal Monique Smalls said, “I dare you to find a building anywhere in the state that loves these students as much as we do.”

The report cards also highlighted slight statewide improvements in English Language Arts at the elementary and middle school levels. According to data, about 50% of students are reading at grade level and about 40% of students are at grade level for math.

Weaver said one of her top budget priorities for the upcoming budget will be establishing a ‘Palmetto Math Project’. She said the initiative would be similar to the Palmetto Literacy Project and would focus on disparities in math.

A key concern of officials is the percentage of students graduating as “career and college ready.” While the state’s graduation rate stands at 84%, only 29% of these students are considered ready for college or a career.

Weaver said, “We view data as a tool, not as a weapon. All of us have cellphones and we know how to use that GPS. We have to have that dot on the map that tells us accurately where we are if we are going to plan our journey to get to where we need to go.”

State education officials also pointed out that approximately half of all students in South Carolina public schools attend institutions with overall ratings of “excellent” or “good.”

You can look up the report card for your child’s school here.