COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Letter grades for nearly half of South Carolina's school districts dropped during the past school year, but education officials blame more ambitious performance goals rather than poorer achievement by students.
The state Education Department released the report card data Thursday. It shows that 39 of the state's 85 districts went down at least a letter grade this school year. Just eight districts improved by at least a letter grade. Three-quarters of all school districts got a C or better, while eight districts were given an F.
Twenty-one of the state's nearly 1,100 schools went from an A to an F in one year.
Education officials say they set higher goals for the 2012-13 school year compared to the year before.
Other data released Thursday showed 82 percent of South Carolina high school students passed the exit exam on the first try. It is the fourth straight year of improvement.
Last year, 84 percent of the state's nearly 1,100 schools received at least a C. It was the first year for the new letter-grade assessments. Before, schools were judged under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which failed a school if it didn't meet all of up to 27 different standards. A vast majority of South Carolina schools failed to meet all of the standards.
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