SC School Report Card Fail

South Carolina can’t even update parents on how bad its government-run schools are performing without coughing up the ball …

South Carolina’s school report cards are late … and no, the dog didn’t eat them.

According to S.C. superintendent of education Molly Spearman, the blame for the delay lies with state government’s vendor on the project – AdvancED.

The annual report cards – which “provide information about each school and district, including test performance, teacher qualifications, student safety, awards, parent involvement and much more” – are expected to be released later this week.

Should they be, though?

And for that matter, should South Carolina continue administering its dumbed-down Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) examination?

What about its various “accountability” agencies – including the S.C. Education Oversight Committee (SCEOC) and the S.C. State Board of Education (SCSBE)?

Should they also be preserved? 

These are just a few of the questions state leaders must consider as they ponder the latest calls for reforming what is indisputably the worst government-run system of education in America.

Invariably, state government in South Carolina responds to the terrible outcomes it produces with more tax dollars, more bureaucracy and more “accountability.”  As we noted earlier this month, all our state’s politicians have done for decades is pay lip service to real reform while throwing billions of dollars in new money into the same demonstrably failed structures.

This same charade happens every year in the Palmetto State – choking off real choices (and real accountability) in the academic marketplace while incentivizing the ongoing corrosion of our “public schools.”

Why should taxpayers keep perpetuating this vicious cycle?  They shouldn’t.

Why should they keep subsidizing failed government “accountability?”  Again … they shouldn’t.  Especially not when apples-to-apples metrics already exist to compare how our state’s students are performing – whether it be the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the exam formerly known as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the exam formerly known as the American College Test (ACT).

There is no need for duplicative metrics … nor is there a need for state-level tests that do nothing but cannibalize instructional time.


Unfortunately, as it stands now the federal government mandates that school report cards be issued each year as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  This 2015 law requires that “vital information (be) provided to educators, families, students, and communities through annual statewide assessments that measure students’ progress toward those high standards.”

Not surprisingly, the federal government dictates the “minimum requirements” for these report cards.

Is any of it working?  No … which is why we are recommending a mass purge of taxpayer-funded education “oversight” functions in South Carolina, starting with the elimination of the SCEOC, the SCSBE and the PASS test.

Some might argue eliminating oversight bureaucracy and standardized testing is a bad thing.

Our counterpoint to that argument is simple: How could things get any worse?  Not only are South Carolina’s government-run schools now trailing Mississippi’s, but the longer students stay in them the dumber they get.  Seriously: What has government oversight of education in South Carolina accomplished other than increasingly expensive generational failure? 

Answer: Nothing.

Don’t get us wrong: The Palmetto State desperately needs accountability when it comes to the academic advancement of its students.  But this accountability is never going to happen under a state-run system – as South Carolina’s current batch of failure factories are proving.  Such accountability can only be achieved by transitioning the state to a marketplace in which dollars follow the students, not the bureaucracies holding them back.



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