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Great Public Schools Criteria for South Carolina

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in South Carolina.

Readiness to Learn

Full-day Kindergarten:

South Carolina's Half-Day Child Development Program (4K) was established under the 1984 Education Improvement Act as part of efforts to better prepare the state's four-year-olds for kindergarten and first grade. Each district is required to provide at least one prekindergarten class with funding allocated based on the number of kindergarten children eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Most districts offer only half-day classes, but some offer full-school-day classes using state, Title I, or local funds to extend the program day. (NIEER)

In the spring of 2004, the state began monitoring program quality using the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). Legislation now requires an annual evaluation to be submits to the Education Oversight Committee, the Governor's Office and the state legislature.

South Carolina also has a separate early childhood initiative known as First Steps to School Readiness. This initiative helps support various programs and services to meet the needs of young children and their families through public-private collaborations. First Steps County Partnerships decide how to distribute funds at the local level with some guidance from the state. These Partnerships decide how to distribute funds at the local level, with some guidance from the state. These funds can be used to supplement the 4K program by extending services to full-day programs, adding new full-day classes, or serving additional children in half-day classes. (NIEER)

A report issued in 2005 concluded the following:

  1. South Carolina's programs produce an increase in children’s vocabulary scores of over 5 raw score points, 42 percent more growth over the year due to the program (and a 10 percent increase in average vocabulary scores). This improvement translates into an additional four months of progress in vocabulary growth due to the program. This outcome is particularly important because the measure is strongly predictive of general cognitive abilities.

  2. South Carolina's programs have large effects on children’s understanding of print concepts. The programs increase all children’s print awareness scores by nearly 19 percentage points, a doubling of growth over the year due to the program (and a 42 percent increase in children’s average print awareness scores). The programs additionally boost scores for children from low-income families another 8 percentage points higher. Children who attend the programs know more letters, more letter-sound associations, and are more familiar with words and books concepts.

  3. No significant effects on a measure of children's skills in phonological awareness. As this measure is relatively new, it is difficult to determine the extent to which the result is due to a true lack of program effects. (SCDE)

The Effects of South Carolina's Early Childhood Programs on Young Children's School Readiness (PDF, 15pp) - Full report.

Quality Conditions

Legal Basis: 1. S.C. CODE ANN. § 59-20-40. Enacted 1977. Amended 2003.   2. S.C. CODE ANN. § 5-139-10. Enacted 1993.  3. S.C. CODE ANN. § 59-63-65. Enacted 1998

Based on these statutes, to qualify for funds each district is required to attain a 21 to 1 average pupil-teacher ratio in basic skills classes of reading and mathematics (grades 1-3). The districts may apply to the state board for waivers (phased in from 1979 to 1983).

The Early Childhood Development and Academic Assistance program requires districts to design long-range plans which may include reduction in kindergarten pupil-teacher ratio. Although the class size component here is voluntary, the plan is mandatory.

The statute provides that school districts which choose to reduce class size to 15 in grades 1-3 shall be eligible for funding for the reduced pupil-teacher ratios from funds provided by the General Assembly for this purpose. Districts choosing to implement the reduced class size must track the students served in classes with a 15:1 ratio for three years so that the impact of smaller class size can be evaluated

Funding is addressed through foundation program; Kindergarten weighted 1.30; primary 1-3, 1.

Current Average Elementary School Class Size: 17.9


S.C. Code Ann. § 59-18-700, § 59-18-710, § 59-18-1100 –
§ 59-18-1120, § 59-18-1500 – § 59-18-1590

Administrative Code: S.C. Code Regs. § 43-300 – § 43-301

South Carolina does not reward but it sanctions districts on the basis of performance. State sanctions on districts include written warning, offer of technical assistance, have district or other entity create and implement a plan for improvement, placement on probation, loss of accreditation, or state take-over of the school district.

South Carolina rewards and also sanctions schools on the basis of performance. Rewards for schools are monetary (bonuses) and non-monetary for both absolute and improved performance. State sanctions of schools include written warning, offer of technical assistance and more funds, requirement that either the school or another entity create and implement a plan for improvement, placement of the school on probation, reconstitution, or take-over by the state.

According to South Carolina's statute, the state superintendent in consultation with the review committee that was approved by the state board of education can take these interventions towards a low-performing school:

This policy was enacted as part of the state accountability system that was in place prior to the enactment of NCLB and appears to be unrelated to NCLB's AYP timeline. [59-18-1520]