March 24, 2023

Study projects 70% of South Carolina 3rd- through 8th-graders will fall behind this spring

An analysis by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) projected 70% of South Carolina third- through eighth-graders will fall behind in English language arts and math this spring.

A study conducted by EOC researchers compared fall 2019 and fall 2020 testing data from about 222,0000 South Carolina students in third through eighth grade, finding that 7 in 10 third- through eighth-graders are likely to perform below grade level proficiency standards by the end of the 2021 spring semester.

“The pandemic has presented an unprecedented upheaval to the education of students in every corner of the state,” EOC Executive Director Matthew Ferguson said.

The “COVID slide” will hit hardest on elementary school students living in poverty or without reliable internet access, researchers projected. Students in grades two through five are expected to fall behind in mathematics by 10% to 16%. The same group is projected to fall behind by 4% to 6% in reading achievement.

Interviews with more than 75 education providers for the study revealed unequal distribution of internet access and digital learning devices posed challenges to remote learning.

“While there is still a digital divide, the pandemic has certainly accelerated student access to technology across the state,” Ferguson said.

The state has invested $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds in rural broadband expansion this year, expanding service to more than 25,000 homes, businesses and schools.

“While the disruption has provided many challenges and, in some instances, opportunities for innovation and creativity, we cannot ignore that many students have and will continue to experience learning loss,” Ferguson said. “Student success – from cradle to career – must remain our collective goal.”

This article was originally published on Study projects 70% of South Carolina 3rd- through 8th-graders will fall behind this spring

Sydney Boles