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      Fewer SC students meet US education goals

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The percentage of South Carolina elementary and middle schools meeting federal education goals took a nosedive this year despite improving test scores.

      Education officials say there is a good explanation, as the goals under the No Child Left Behind law became a lot tougher to reach.

      Only 27 percent of 908 elementary and middle schools made "adequate yearly progress" this year, compared to 61 percent in 2010. The tumble seems to contradict results released by the agency last week, showing that third- through eighth-graders posted better scores across most grades and subjects on standardized tests taken in the spring.

      However, the benchmark for showing progress increased considerably this year, from fewer than 60 percent of students passing math and English, to nearly 80 percent.

      State Education Superintendent Mick Zais says the shifting marks are demoralizing to educators who work hard to improve schools, but end up being marked as failing for missing as few as one of up to 37 different benchmarks

      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)