2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 62%
Individual Tax Credit/Deduction
The South Carolina Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children is a refundable tax credit program passed and launched in 2015. Different from traditional tax credit programs, refundable tax credits have greater utility for parents of more modest incomes.
The South Carolina Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children is a tax-credit scholarship program enacted in 2013 and launched in 2014. The program provides tax credits of up to 100 percent of donations made to Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs). SFOs give private school scholarships to students with special needs.
Charter Schools Score: 82%
South Carolina ranks 11, with a grade of B. Recent changes to the law have facilitated a rise in CER’s rankings for South Carolina.
The law now allows universities to authorize charter schools. To date, the South Carolina Public Charter School District authorizes the majority of charters in the state. While the public charter school district has done a good job ensuring that South Carolina charters have the autonomy to operate as they see fit, funding inequities have hampered this growth.
South Carolina earned a low B in CER’s rankings in part because the law provides for independent, multiple authorizers (including universities), and includes no charter caps. However, large hindrances to charter school growth and a lack of equitable facilities funding prevented the Palmetto state from earning higher marks.
- Fast Facts
- Law passed in 1996
- Number of Charters: 68
- Estimated Charter School Enrollment 31,700 (up 1 percent from 2015-16)
- South Carolina does not cap the number of charter schools
- Virtual Charter Schools are allowed provided that 25 percent of instruction involves a “real time” teacher
- There is wide flexibility for charters wishing to contract with EMOs/CMOs for management services
- South Carolina scores 9 out of 15 for “authorizing” because the law allows universities, school districts, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District to authorize charter schools. While school districts and the Public Charter School District are active in authorizing charter schools, universities are currently inactive (although there are a few that may begin authorizing charter schools soon). Unfortunately, the South Carolina Charter School District does not operate autonomously of government, which means it is vulnerable to politics. This lack of autonomy hurt South Carolina’s score.
- South Carolina earns a 12 out of 15 for “growth.” While South Carolina’s law does not cap the number of charter schools available, the law makes it difficult for charter schools to expand because it requires operators to apply for a new charter each time they would like to expand. This means that successful charter schools have to reapply and comply with burdensome regulations before they are able to open more campuses and serve more students. Policies like this have caused a decrease in the number of charter school options.
- South Carolina receive 13 of 20 points for “operations.” The law provides charter schools a blanket waiver from most state and local regulations. However, charter school funding flows from the authorizer, instead of the state.This makes schools vulnerable to the whims of authorizers.
South Carolina scores 6 out 15 for “funding equity.” Charter schools authorized by the Public Charter School District cannot draw funding from a local tax base (as district schools do), but they do receive state funding in addition to the pre-determined per-pupil amount students would otherwise receive. This amounts to roughly $3,600 per student ($1,900 per virtual student). This level of funding has helped close the funding gap between district charters and charters authorized by the Public Charter School District. It, is however, a line item in the state’s budget and therefor vulnerable to cuts. Charter Schools in South Carolina do not have access to any per-pupil facilities funding.
Online Learning Score: 82%
South Carolina allows high-quality providers and students now have access to a variety of digital learning experiences, but barriers to student access around funding and enrollment persist. Digital learning in South Carolina continues to grow. Governor Nikki Haley acknowledged the importance of online learning and technology in the classroom with a K-12 education reform initiative, seeking to modernize technology in the classroom and improve bandwidth in order to give students wider access to digital content and provide them with computer skills that will make them attractive to employers.
Teacher Quality Score: 75%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C
Identifying Effective Teachers C-
Retaining Effective Teachers C+
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D+