For the sixth year in a row, South Carolina public school students saw their scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) decline – despite record increases in taxpayer funding.

According to the College Board – which administers the SAT – public school students in the Palmetto state scored a composite 1,422 (out of 2,400) on the exam.  That’s a five point decline from the previous year – in which public school students saw a 12-point drop in scores.

Palmetto State public school students scored 477 on critical reading, 487 on math and 458 on writing – scores that were down in all categories.  South Carolina public school students are now trailing the national mean score by a whopping 76 points – a gap that has expanded by 22 points in the last two years alone.

Here are the last five year’s worth of South Carolina scores …


2007-2008          1447                    1454
2008-2009          1441                    1447
2009-2010          1439                    1443
2010-2011          1427                    1436
2011-2012          1422                    1431

And let’s not forget that these depressing figures do not include the thousands of children who leave school each year in South Carolina – which has one of the highest dropout rates in America.  Currently only 61.7 percent of Palmetto State public school students graduate, the third-worst mark in the country according to Education Week‘s annual Diplomas Count survey.

Sadly, these aren’t the only dismal stats our public education system is registering.  A whopping 76 percent of South Carolina public schools (831 out of 1,037) failed to make adequate yearly progress during the 2010-11 academic year, according to data released last December by the Center on Education Policy.  On that measure the Palmetto State ranks 46th nationally – and is one of only five states in which more than three-quarters of public schools failed to make the grade.

In last year’s state budget, Gov. Nikki Haley and our state’s “Republican” controlled S.C. General Assembly spent a record $11,754 per pupil on public education (not counting money spent on infrastructure and local bonding).  This year’s budget upped that figure to $11,770 per student.  Meanwhile local districts are currently sitting on nearly $1 billion in reserve accounts.

Clearly this mountain of new money has done absolutely nothing to improve our public schools.  In fact our state is continuing to fall further behind the rest of the nation – which itself is falling further behind the rest of the world.

A year ago, state lawmakers rejected a universal parental choice plan that would have dramatically enhanced academic freedom for all students.  The measure failed by one vote in the S.C. House – with a group of Upstate “Republicans” (including this guy) leading the way.

This year the S.C. House of Representatives passed a scaled-back choice bill, but it failed to clear the State Senate thanks to the efforts of liberal Senators Wes Hayes and Larry Martin.

SAT Report on College and Career Readiness (College Board)