Press Release: S.C. Rated 4th-Highest In U.S. For Rural Schools’ Needs

S.C. rated 4th-highest in U.S. for rural schools’ needs


June 14, 2017

Contact: Megan Carolan,, (908) 418-1684

Or Alan Richard,, (202) 641-1300

WASHINGTON—South Carolina has some of the nation’s neediest rural schools and lowest achievement among rural students—signaling the urgent need for more attention from state leaders, a new national report shows.

The newest edition of Why Rural Matters, released today by the nonprofit Rural School and Community Trust, ranks the state 4th nationally in its overall “priority rating” for rural education needs. The rating includes factors such as demographics and poverty, student achievement, state resources, and students’ college and career readiness.

The report also points out that despite advances in early childhood education and health programs, South Carolina still enrolls fewer than half its 4 year olds in state pre-K classes—lower than some comparable states.

“Our state is taking steps forward for our youngest children, but we still must work together to improve children’s health and education starting from birth, in our child care system, and in quality and access for pre-K programs,” said Jamie Moon, the president and CEO of the Institute for Child Success. ICS is a nonprofit early childhood policy and research organization based in Greenville, S.C., and a national partner of the Rural Trust report.

The Why Rural Matters report shows that South Carolina has:

  • The 4th highest rate in the U.S. of rural students from low-income families: nearly 69 percent.
  • The 5th highest rate of rural students of color in the U.S., at nearly 50 percent.
  • The nation’s 13th-highest rate of rural English-language learner students, at 4 percent.
  • 40 percent of its schools defined as rural.
  • Nearly 116,000 students attending rural schools.
  • Fewer resources for rural schools than many states: the nation’s 12th-lowest rate for per-student spending in rural schools, $5,203, compared with the nation’s highest of $12,500. The state has taken some steps to improve rural funding since the data in this report were collected.
  • A ranking of 30th in the U.S. for the portion of state funding for rural schools, despite a state Supreme Court order requiring the state to provide more resources.
  • Among the nation’s lowest student achievement for rural students: 6th lowest in 4th grade reading and math, 8th lowest in 8th grade reading, and 12th lowest in 8th grade science.
  • Rural students less prepared for college and careers than their peers in most states: The state has the 6th-lowest percentage of rural students taking at least one Advanced Placement course (14 percent), the 11th-lowest graduation rate for rural students, and the 12th-lowest rate of rural juniors and seniors taking the ACT or SAT (35 percent).

In early childhood, South Carolina’s expansion of the Nurse Family Partnership home visiting program to most counties is now a national model, the Why Rural Matters report shows. The state is funding the program using $30 million through a public-private partnership known as Pay for Success. In 2016, the state improved on the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT report for children’s well-being from 43rd to 41st nationally.

“There are many signs of progress in South Carolina’s rural schools and in early childhood, but many rural students who have such enormous potential deserve better educational opportunities across the state,” said Alan Richard, the board chair of the Rural School and Community Trust, a national education writer, and Greenville, S.C. native.

For more information, contact the Rural School and Community Trust and the Institute for Child Success. The full report is available at and instituteforchildsuccess.test.

The Rural Trust is a nonpartisan advocacy and policy organization based in Washington, D.C.


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