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Aurora Institute

South Carolina Overview

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): State Policy, Create Enabling Conditions for Competency-Based Education

SC State FlagIt’s hard to stay on top of all fifty states now that district-wide and whole school competency-based education is expanding so rapidly. (Please note: Even though vendors like to describe their products as competency-based, we do not believe that an adaptive software program can be competency-based. Online programs are simply able to produce flexible pacing based on the algorithms that are used to determine proficiency within the program. This is very different from designing a system based upon a growth mindset and organized to help every student be successful.) Here is a quick summary of what we know about what is going on in South Carolina. If you have any updates, please send them our way.

Two Leading Districts (Are There Others?)


Red Bank Elementary, Lexington

If you know of other districts and schools becoming competency-based in South Carolina please let us know.

Leadership and Networks

Transform SC has forty schools from nineteen districts in their network. Transform SC offers institutes and annual conferences for educators in SC to learn more about personalized, competency-based, and blended learning. Transform SC has also created a Higher Education Action team to look at the intersection of K12 and higher ed.

Policy Context

It’s always helpful to understand the policy context when trying to understand how personalized, competency-based schools are developing.

  • South Carolina Policy Context: According to CFAT, school districts may apply for seat-time waivers, but must do so for every course for which it seeks exemption. The policy has been used primarily to accommodate online courses, but can be applied in traditional classroom settings. In addition, the South Carolina State Board of Education Regulation 43-234 allows districts to submit a proficiency-based, system-wide application to the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE). Proficiency-based applications are approved for the duration of a district’s Strategic Plan or school’s Renewal Plan.
  • Standards: South Carolina has created its own set of academic standards to be aligned with college and career readiness approved in 2015.
  • State Assessments: Replacing the state’s standards necessitated a new set of state assessments for South Carolina. The state administers the ACT WorkKeys in grade 11. Testing dates for this school year are yet to be determined. Summative tests are planned for ELA and mathematics for Grades 3–8 and 11. If sufficient funds are available, the state plans to also administer assessments in grades 9 and 10.
  • School Accountability: Act 200 of 2014 suspended report card ratings for both districts and schools for two years, in 2015 and 2016. Districts and schools will once again receive report cards under a new accountability system for the 2016-2017 school year, which will be released in the fall of 2017. The proposal for the new accountability system is due to the legislature by fall 2016.
  • Teacher EvaluationsAt least 20 percent of a teacher’s overall evaluation must be based on student growth. Districts can base up to 50 percent of a teacher’s overall evaluation on student growth metrics. Districts must use state assessments for those grades and subjects for which they are available.