South Carolina schools making a palmetto statement

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Trey Stewart, Staff Writer

When outsiders think of South Carolina, what normally comes to their minds?

Perhaps the first thing people think about is the southern hospitality exhibited by many citizens of this state. Maybe it’s the beautiful beaches along the eastern coast of the state.

One thing people most likely don’t think about when South Carolina is exceptionally studious schooling. However, according to a recent study, students from South Carolina were shown to have the highest GPA average out of the rest of the United States, sitting at a 3.48 average. Rounding out the list are West Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee and Florida.

However, the study that was conducted was based off GPA scores alone, and according to Jill Branyon, professor in the department of education at North Greenville University, those scores may not be as reliable as one would think.

“GPA scores are relative. This (South Carolina’s place on the list) is probably a combination of hard work with students staying in school, the targeted interventions by teachers to keep students from falling in through the cracks, focus on 21st-century skills and college and career readiness skills as well as improved industrial opportunities in the state.”

Branyon offered up another explanation as for why South Carolina’s GPA scores have skyrocketed over the course of the past few years.

“Along with those previous things comes some discretionary input by teachers which may reflect grade inflation. I think GPAs got the highest boost when Superintendent Molly Spearman moved to change the grading system in S.C. to reflect those of colleges and other states on a 10-point scale which gave all GPAs a boost.”

Branyon offered up her final opinion on the matter, as to what this means for South Carolinian education for the future.

“Is all of this good news for S.C.? I would say yes, but advise caution for GPAs do not tell the whole story. Moving students into dual credit opportunities also raised the bar for students across the state by allowing them to take courses for dual credit in colleges and universities."

She went on to say that NGU has a dual credit opportunity for high school students in their junior and senior year. So while some might consider it simply grade inflation, she says that it is an improvement due mostly to the change in the grading scale and because the rigor of courses has increased.

Branyon would love to know the percent of students taking AP courses, IB courses and dual credit. If those percentages are increasing statewide, then she thinks it is great news.