COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - The number of South Carolina public schools and districts receiving "excellent" or "good" ratings increased significantly this year.
That's despite a steady rise in the percentage of students living in poverty.
Data released Tuesday shows the state had a 27 percent increase in districts and 19 percent increase in individual schools achieving those top two rankings on 2012 report cards.
That means 61 percent of students attend the state's best-rated schools, compared with 9 percent who attend the worst. Thirty percent attend schools with "average" performance.
However, the report cards also show the state's worst-performing schools appear stuck there. Thirty schools have been rated "at risk" for four consecutive years.
Three of every four high school students statewide graduated on time this year.
Here in the tri-county area, three of the four school districts got an A.
Charleston County School District received an 89.2 which is a B, but just .7 points away from an A.
"This has been a journey that we have been on together working hard with our teachers, our community supporters," said Nancy McGinley, CCSD superintendent. "It's paying off. You do not change a large school district overnight. But we have absolutely transformed it in 5 years."
To see reports on the rest of the state's schools, click here.
State graduation rates are also on the rise, going up to 74.9 percent from 73.6 percent last year.
"Students, parents, and teachers deserve the credit for the gains made in graduation rates. The prospects for long-term economic growth and job creation improve as more students graduate from high school with the skills necessary to compete for jobs in the workforce, enlist in the military, or enroll in an institution of higher education," said State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais. "The path to prosperity for South Carolina's economy begins, but does not end, with greater numbers of high school graduates."
Four South Carolina high schools posted 100 percent graduation rates: Academic Magnet High School in Charleston County, Lamar High School and Mayo High School for Math and Science in Darlington County, and Greenville Technical Charter High School in Greenville County.
In a statement Tuesday, Berkeley County schools officials lauded the reports, which rated the school district, "good."
The last time the district received the rating was in 2004, officials said.
"First, I want to be clear that we are encouraged - but not fully satisfied - by the 2012 report card results," said Superintendent Rodney Thompson in the statement. "These results indicate that overall, we are headed in the right direction with our strategic plan, and we acknowledge that we can and must strengthen our efforts to empower BCSD students and schools to achieve success."
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