Photo courtesy of Redmi Xiaomi on Unsplash

Test scores have declined in South Carolina, according to the nation’s report card released this week.

But not for everyone.

The assessment from the National Center for Education Statistics provides educational data for public schools’ fourth- and eighth-graders in various subjects. 

South Carolina’s eighth-graders scored lower in math and reading than the national average and lower than the state’s scores in 2019, the last time the assessment was done

South Carolina’s younger students, those in fourth-grade, fared better than their middle-school counterparts, showing no significant change in average math and reading test scores.

The state did better than a large portion of the country because the nation saw a steep drop in test scores overall, particularly in math.

Comparatively, the South as a whole saw test scores drop. 

“Average scores significantly declined in the South for all four subject-grades,” Brian Cramer, a research analyst at the National Center for Education Statistics, told The Carolina News & Reporter. 

The state held its own when compared to much of the rest of the country. 

“South Carolina is one of 14 states/jurisdictions, out of 52 total, that only significantly declined in two or fewer subject-grades,” Cramer said. 

The state’s difficulties in its educational system are not exactly new — some of which are caused by a lack of funds.

“We have struggled for a long time with education and funding it properly,” said Jennifer Rainville, an education policy attorney at the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

While the quality of education varies in South Carolina and across the nation, education’s importance is largely undisputed.

“I think education is that great equalizer,” Rainville said. “That is the one thing that can pull a child from poverty. If they get a good quality education, then they can go out and get a good job, and be able to support and provide for their family.”

The last national assessment was done in 2019, before COVID struck. This year’s numbers help provide a fuller picture of the pandemic’s effect on education in the United States.

Graphic by Bee Brawley