South Carolina Readiness Policies

Overview

South Carolina
High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how South Carolina aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  

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South Carolina
College and Career Readiness Definitions

The South Carolina Department of Education adopted college- and career- ready standards effective for the 2015-2016 school year. South Carolina requires that all 11th grade students take ACT WorkKeys. Further, to earn a South Carolina high school diploma, students are required to pass a high school credit course in science and United States history and four gateway courses (English, math, science and social studies) in which a state authorized end-of-course examination, aligned to the South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards, is administered. End-of-course examinations comprise 20 percent of the student’s final course grade.

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South Carolina
College and Career Planning in K-12

The South Carolina Department of Education disburses over $21 million in state funds annually to support the hiring of school guidance personnel who have completed the Career Development Facilitator (CDF) training and/or earned global CDF certification.

In accordance with the Education and Economic Development Act of 2005, these guidance personnel are responsible for ensuring that all middle school students have numerous opportunities to explore career options and complete career interest assessments prior to developing their individual graduation plans, with assistance from their parents/guardians and school counselors. The IGPs for eighth grade students identify the students’ choices of one or more of the 16 career clusters as focus areas. Students may change their choices of clusters at any time.

In high school, tenth grade students are required to narrow their focus areas by selecting academic majors within their chosen clusters. The selection of a major is also documented in the graduation plan to guide students in the selection of elective courses as they form their college and career aspirations beyond graduation.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education administers a statewide, federally funded GEAR UP program. The objectives of GEAR UP are to increase high school students’ academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education. Students in the program receive the following:

  • Tutoring and mentorship
  • Introduction to institutions of higher education through trips and school-based sessions
  • Informational sessions regarding financial aid for postsecondary education

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education also offers SC CAN (www.SCCANGO.org), a statewide portal that provides access to online resources for South Carolina students, families, and educational professionals. Visitors are able to view the site through mobile, computer, and tablet devices, access information through social media, watch videos, view pictures, download resources, receive news and program updates, read student blogs, submit success stories, and view an interactive calendar of events.

Beginning July 1, 2014, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education awarded funding to a Center of Excellence for College and Career Readiness at Francis Marion University. This Center will partner with school districts, technical colleges, economic development centers, and four-year colleges and universities to prepare students for postsecondary success. The Center will provide resources, programs, and support for existing and new P-20 initiatives and stakeholders (including administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and students). Further, the Center will conduct research to further an understanding of how best to prepare South Carolina’s students for the challenges they face beyond high school.

Using the South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center (SC TRAC), students can better plan their progression to a degree by identifying and taking courses that will transfer toward a degree program at a public institution. Using SC TRAC, students can easily locate information related to transfer and access transfer agreements, search for course equivalencies to determine how courses taken at one institution transfer to another, and find detailed and up-to-date information on degree pathways.

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South Carolina
High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Students must complete at least 24 units to earn a regular high school diploma.

Subject

Credits

Required Courses

Substitutions

English

4

English I

English II

English III

English IV  

AP, IB, or dual enrollment English courses or Advanced Composition

Math

4

First math or Algebra I

Second math          

Third math

Fourth math          

AP, IB, or dual enrollment math courses

Science

3

Physical Science

Biology

One additional lab science   

AP, IB, or dual enrollment sciences courses

Social Studies

3

U.S. History and Constitution

1/2 Credit Economics

1/2 Credit U.S. Government

Other Social Studies

IB or dual enrollment social studies courses

Computer Science

1

 

Keyboarding

Physical Education

1

Physical Education   

Junior ROTC

Foreign Language or Career Technology

1

 

Not specified

Electives

7

   

Total Credits

24

   

Assessment Requirements

South Carolina administers End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP) assessments in four subjects: English I, Algebra I/ Math for the Technologies II, Biology I, and U.S. history and Constitution. The end-of-course assessments count as 20 percent of final course grades. Students must pass Biology I and U.S. History and Constitution courses to graduate high school.  Students in grade 11 will take both the ACT and ACT WorkKeys.

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South Carolina
Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Juniors and seniors in high school who have nearly mastered the complete high school curriculum are eligible to enroll in college-level courses. Principals must recommend dual enrollment students before they become eligible for dual credit opportunities. To enroll in courses at four-year institutions and two-year regional campuses of the University of South Carolina System, students must have GPAs of 3.0 or higher. To enroll in courses at technical colleges, students must meet the requirements set by the specific institution. District school boards may establish policies allowing students to take college courses. These policies may allow for cooperative agreements with one or more postsecondary institutions. The tuition and fees may be funded by local school districts or be the responsibility of the student.

Dual Credit may be awarded at the discretion of the district boards of trustees. Policies may allow courses that are applicable to baccalaureate or associate degrees to be offered by a postsecondary institution through cooperative agreements. Three-semester-hour college courses transfer as one unit of credit in such cases, and tuition costs and other fees are the responsibility of the student unless otherwise specified in the local district policy.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

The South Carolina Department of Education funds and coordinates training courses for aspiring Advanced Placement (AP) teachers. South Carolina state law and South Carolina Commission on Higher Education policy direct each public institution to award credit in appropriate courses for scores of three or higher on Advanced Placement examinations.

South Carolina also offers three International Baccalaureate Programs to high school students: The IB Middle Years Program (to the age of 16), and the IB Diploma Programme and IB Career-related Programme (for students age 16-19).

South Carolina has existing policies regarding credit acceptance for postsecondary institutions. In most cases, students scoring a 3 or better on AP exams and a 4 or better on IB exams should receive college-level credit in the comparable postsecondary courses.

Career and Technical Education

South Carolina has adopted the National Career Clusters Framework, and offers over 300 courses across the 16 Clusters. CTE courses may be included in dual enrollment agreements.

Early College High Schools

South Carolina currently has three early college high schools located throughout the state. The schools are part of the national Early College High School Initiative, launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in 2002.

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South Carolina
Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The governing boards of four-year colleges and universities establish admissions standards. However, state law requires that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education review minimum undergraduate admissions standards for in-state and out-of-state students. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education has a policy for College Preparatory Courses. These courses are minimal requirements for four-year public college admission and include:

Minimum Pre-College Curriculum Requirements

Subject

Units

Course Requirements

English

4

Units in English and American literature

Math

4

Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II and a fourth unit (e.g., trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus, statistics, discrete math or a senior-year capstone course

Lab Science

3

Two units selected from biology, chemistry, or physics

Social Studies

3

One unit of American history

Half units of economics and government strongly recommended

Foreign Language

2

Two units in same language

Fine Arts

1

 

Physical Education or ROTC

1

 

Electives

1

Computer science strongly recommended but not required

Total

19

 

Each institution can make exceptions in admitting students who do not meet these prerequisites, limited to individual cases in which failure to meet one or more prerequisites is due to circumstances beyond reasonable control of the student.

Beginning in the 2019-20 academic year, entering college freshmen will need to complete 20 units, including an additional elective. The Fall 2019 curriculum standards also require half units of economics and American government. The standards explicitly reference reading, communication and researching in the English coursework.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Students designated as baccalaureate-ready must meet the same admissions requirements set for students who apply to the system’s flagship. Regional campuses designate applicants who do not meet system standards as provisional admits. Provisional enrollees undergo placement testing in English and math to determine readiness for college-level courses. Failure to reach readiness benchmarks results in placement in enriched sections of entry-level courses.

While technically allowed by Commission rules, the University of South Carolina System’s Board of Trustees prohibit the delivery of standalone remediation at regional campuses.

Technical colleges operate as open admissions campuses. The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education requires applicants to be 18 years old. Younger applicants must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.

While board rules do not require adult applicants to hold a high school diploma, some institutions require them for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.

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South Carolina
Postsecondary Placement Policies

Four-Year Institutions

Four-year institutions establish minimum ACT/SAT scores and class rank requirements. Developmental courses cannot be offered at the four-year institutions, but students may still complete placement testing by subject (e.g., math and foreign language) through various instruments.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Two-year students undergo placement testing in English and math to determine readiness for college-level courses. Developmental courses cannot be offered at the two-year institutions, so students who fail to meet placement benchmarks are placed in enriched sections of entry-level courses that count towards college credit. These students are then mainstreamed into regular coursework as soon as possible.

Technical College students may present qualifying SAT or ACT scores or participate in placement testing. Students must take institutionally determined placement tests in reading, writing and math. Students who do not meet placement benchmarks are placed in developmental education courses.

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South Carolina
State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

The state funds five financial aid programs. The three largest programs provide merit-based aid. Students may accept only one of the merit-based scholarships, even if they meet eligibility requirements for multiple awards.

Students may qualify for the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Award by meeting one of the following set of criteria: (1) 1200 SAT or 27 ACT, 3.5 grade-point average and Top 6% Class Rank or (2) 1400 SAT or 32 ACT and 4.0 GPA. Freshmen may receive annual awards up to $6,700. In future years, college students may receive annual awards up to $7,500 if they maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA.

Students may qualify for the LIFE Scholarship by meeting two of three following criteria: (1) 1100 SAT or 24 ACT, (2) 3.0 GPA, and/or (3) Top 30% Class Rank. Students may receive a maximum award of $5,000 award and $300 book stipend if they maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA.

Students who do not qualify for the Palmetto or LIFE Scholarships may receive the South Carolina HOPE Scholarship with a high school GPA of 3.0.

The state’s Uniform Grading Policy calculates high school GPA based on a 0.0 to 6.0-point scale.

Palmetto Fellows and LIFE Scholars must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA and earn at least 30 credit hours at the end of each academic year to remain eligible. Palmetto Fellows and LIFE Scholars may receive an additional $2,500 enhancement in their second, third, or fourth year if they enroll in certain math and science majors (e.g., computer science, engineering, nursing, pharmacy). Freshmen must complete at least fourteen credits in math and science subjects to receive the enhancement. 

The HOPE Scholarship is a freshmen-only award. Recipients may qualify to receive the LIFE scholarship in subsequent years if they maintain a 3.0 college GPA.

The South Carolina Need-Based Grant Program provides annual awards up to $2,500 for students with demonstrated financial need. Students remain eligible if they maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA at the end of each academic year.

The Lottery Tuition Assistance Program provides supplemental aid for students enrolled at the University of South Carolina’s two-year campuses and Spartanburg Methodist College. The maximum annual award is $2,280. The program does not award grants based on merit or need.

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South Carolina
Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

The South Carolina Department of Education compiles the College Freshman Report on the numbers and percentages of South Carolina high school graduates who attend college. The report indicates the numbers of college courses that students passed or failed by subject area. The summary also includes a percentage breakdown by high school of the postsecondary activities of high school graduates, including college enrollment, gainful employment, and military enlistment.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education compiles an annual report on the admission standards for first-time entering freshmen. The report includes data on applications, acceptances, and enrollment and specifies the minimum SAT score required of most applicants for admission.