US News report ranks South Carolina 45th overall, dead last in education

Credit: WPRI

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – A new report ranks South Carolina in the top 5 worst states to live in the country and ranks our education dead last.
Not everybody is buying the numbers, especially Upstate educators who say these are skewed standards to measure success.

“At the end of the day, what a magazine says really doesn’t have a bearing on what we do. We’re going to keep that focus on student achievement,” said Wade Hampton High School Principal, Eric Williams.

While the US News and World Report ranks South Carolina education as 50 out of 50, Williams is running a blue ribbon school of excellence.

“A National blue ribbon school is the highest honor the federal government can bestow upon a school for student achievement,” Williams explained.

The difference, he said, is a laser focus for the last 20 years in Greenville County, creating better graduates.

With an 87% graduation rate, he said students leave qualified to excel in industry and innovation.

It’s a similar focus across all Upstate counties.

Williams said South Carolina’s state standards for graduation are some of the nation’s toughest. It can skew the numbers compared to other states.
“We require 24 credits from all of our seniors to be able to graduate and walk across that stage and get their diploma,” he said.

Not every ranking in the report was poor. The quality of pre-k programs in the state ranked in the top 5 best in the country.

“We don’t look at them as numbers. We look at them as children,” said Dr. Susan Stevens, Principal of Greenville’s 6 child development centers.

“We begin with the end in mind and we know that these children are going to be the class of 2030. We begin every day laying the foundation for that success,” said Stevens.

With a focus on the emotional readiness of their children, South Carolina is essentially leading the charge to create a stronger generation of students. It’s why Stevens said they aren’t deterred by a low ranking.

“The reality is, we’re not here every day to serve a data source. We’re here to meet the needs of the children in our buildings and make sure we help our children be all they need to be successful,” said Stevens.

Former Governor Nikki Haley made education her focus in her second term, initiating efforts to recruit and retain more teachers, as well as fix crumbling schools.

Governor McMaster has also championed early childhood education.

The Governor’s office has not yet responded to our questions about the rankings and his plans for education reform.

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