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“Encouraging” Report Card For Aiken County’s Schools: Four Rated Excellent, Aiken Scholars Academy Ranked Third Among The State’s 252 High Schools, 90% Grad Rate


South Carolina has released its first School Report Card Ratings since before the pandemic in 2019. Despite COVID-19 challenges, Aiken County’s students are making academic progress. Four of the district’s schools have met the initial eligibility criteria for Palmetto Silver Awards, and Aiken Scholars Academy ranked in the top three schools in the state for academic achievement alongside Charleston Academic Magnet and the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. Four schools are among the elite group rated “Excellent” overall, and the District’s graduation rate is among the best in the state at 90 percent.

“While navigating school closures and shifting instruction from the classroom to the cloud and back, our teachers and staff have worked tirelessly alongside students and their parents to maintain academic rigor and close gaps in learning,” District Superintendent King Laurence commented. “This report card is encouraging, reflecting, for the most part, year-over-year progress in some of the toughest years our public education system has ever faced.”

Overall, 82.5% of schools are meeting, exceeding or substantially exceeding the criteria established to ensure all students meet the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. The District’s new Chief Instructional Officer Dr. Amy Edwards is impressed.

“Aiken County should be very proud of this, especially because of the things that we’ve been through and our world,” Edwards stated. “I hate to make excuses; I’m not the excuse type. But this was very impressive to me. It’s quite impressive across the state.”

The state’s accountability system includes the following performance indicators at the elementary and middle school levels: Academic Achievement, Preparing for Success, Student Progress/Growth, School Climate, and English Learners’ Proficiency. Of note in Aiken County, Mossy Creek Elementary increased its overall rating by two categories, from “Average” to “Excellent.” Other overall rating improvements were seen at North Augusta Middle, which moved up a category to “Good,” and Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary, which progressed to “Average.”

Millbrook Elementary and New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet maintained their “Excellent” ratings, and Langley-Bath-Clearwater and Oakwood-Windsor maintained their school ratings of “Good.”

Overall, the number of elementary and middle school students meeting or exceeding state expectations in English Language Arts on the SC Ready assessment has increased year-over-year. Three elementary schools, Millbrook, Mossy Creek, and Oakwood-Windsor, and one middle school, New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet, have met initial eligibility criteria for the Palmetto Silver Award, a statewide recognition program which rewards schools for academic excellence and closing the achievement gap.

High schools have Academic Achievement, Preparing for Success, School Climate, and English Learners’ Proficiency as indicators under the state’s accountability system, but also include both Graduation Rate and College and Career Readiness in assessing performance. Aiken Scholars Academy received an “Excellent” Report Card rating, ranking the district’s high school just 1.5 points behind the Governor’s School for Science and Math. Eighth grade students interested in ASA for high school are encouraged to visit the school’s website,, for further details and an application. Information sessions are planned for the next several months leading up to the application deadline of January 31.

"I could not be prouder of what our students have been able to accomplish with the guidance and support of our amazing faculty and staff,” ASA Principal Martha Messick commented. “We have been able to build upon the strong foundations of learning built from our students' parents, past teachers, and experiences. Like all schools, we have faced challenges over the last few years and are so fortunate to have been able to maintain focus on student growth and learning, which is where our vision remains. We are so thankful for the trust our students and their families have put into us, and the tremendous partner we have with University of South Carolina Aiken. My heart is so full and I am honored every day to call ASA home!"

Four high schools, Aiken High, Midland Valley High, North Augusta High, and South Aiken High, received an overall “Good” rating. Three ACPSD secondary schools are ranked “Average” overall, including Ridge Spring-Monetta High, Silver Bluff High, and Wagener-Salley High.

The District’s on-time graduation rate of nearly 90% (89.93%) is more than six percent higher than the state average. Aiken County’s grad rate is ranked 13th of 79 districts across the state; 18th among African American students.

Aiken County’s student success rate on End of Course (EOC) tests is well ahead of the state average in Biology. The percentage of students achieving a grade of “C” or higher on the Biology EOC exceeded the state performance by more than 30 percent.  The graduating cohort also exceeded the state average in achieving a “C” or higher on EOC tests for English and Algebra 1.

As intended by state law, South Carolina’s report card is “a performance indicator system that is logical, reasonable, fair, challenging, and technically defensible, which furnishes clear and specific information about school and district academic performance and other performance to parents and the public” (Section 59- 18-110(2)).

The goal of the accountability system is to improve teaching and learning so that all students are equipped with a strong academic foundation and to ensure that all students graduate with the world-class knowledge, skills and characteristics as defined by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. The accountability system is designed to promote high levels of student achievement through strong and effective schools.

“The safeguards instituted over the last several years have helped significantly in preventing learning loss,” District Superintendent King Laurence continued. “While there are still some areas of focus, the report card data is encouraging.”