Learning & Activities


The 10 Best Schools in South Carolina Today

The 10 Best Schools in South Carolina Today

South Carolina plays a vital role in American history, especially in the American Civil War. As one of the more vocal supporters of secession, the state became a focal point in the early stages of the war, with the Battle of Fort Sumter marking the beginning of a long and bloody conflict. South Carolina’s role in the Civil War is commemorated through numerous historical sites, museums, and landmarks. 

South Carolina is also home to some of the top-rated schools in the nation, with numerous prestigious magnet and charter schools. The state is divided into 101 school districts with 1,280 schools that serve roughly 766,302 K-12 students

Picking the right school for your child can be daunting, with the ideal choice depending on an individual and their unique learning needs. Luckily, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on the ten top-rated institutions in South Carolina as a valuable resource for parents in the state. 

Our guide provides valuable information on each school’s academic programs, extracurricular activities, student-to-teacher ratios, faculty experience, parent and alum reviews, and other vital factors. Here are the ten top-rated schools in the Palmetto State, ranked in ascending order. 

Best Elementary Schools

Belle Hall Elementary School

385 Egypt Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

Belle Hall Elementary is a top-performing public elementary school in the Charleston 01 School District. It is home to approximately 658 kids in prekindergarten through fifth grade. The school is one of the five schools in South Carolina awarded the National Blue Ribbon designation for 2021, a testament to its exemplary academic performance. 

Most students at Belle Hall perform at or above the proficiency standards of the South Carolina Department of Education. According to state assessment scores from the 2018-19 school year, 81% attain proficiency in math, 78% in English, 90% in social studies, and 77% in science. 

Your child may have numerous opportunities to explore their interests and talents. The school has a Green Team Club for environmentally-minded third graders. Your child may join the Garden Club, Student Council, or School News Show. 

The school has 41 full-time instructors and a student-teacher ratio of 16:1. All full-time faculty members are certified, and 95% of the teachers have over three years of teaching experience. Belle Hall also has a full-time nurse and law enforcement officer among its support staff. 

The school receives stellar reviews from parents, with a 4.9/5 stars rating on GreatSchools.org. Here’s what one parent had to say, “Excellent school and has been a wonderful experience. Parents are heavily invested and children receive a solid educational experience. Administration, teachers, and staff are top notch.”

Seaside Elementary School

1605 Woodland Dr, Garden City, SC 29576

Seaside Elementary is a public school in Garden City under the Horry 01 School District, educating roughly 499 students in prekindergarten through fourth grade. The school has received numerous state and national accolades for its academic performances and philanthropic efforts. 

The school offers a comprehensive curriculum with numerous enrichment programs that allow kids to explore their talents. Students’ performance on state assessments shows that most students perform at or above their grade level. Around 77% attain proficiency in math, 74% in science, and 67% in English. 

Your child can also participate in special programs such as art courses, music, physical education, and STEM courses. Seaside Elementary offers the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Gateway curriculum for elementary kids that introduces students to STEM.

The school also runs an Academically Gifted and Talented Program that seeks to identify intellectually gifted kids and provide them with the appropriate level of support and feedback. Outside the classroom, your child can participate in clubs and organizations such as the recycling club, Special Olympics, community service, and student council. 

Parents left the school overwhelmingly positive reviews on GreatSchools.org, with all reviewers giving it a 5/5 star rating. Most parents praised the school’s caring faculty, strong administration, and active PTO. 

Student playing independently in Montessori classroom
Hands-on learning in action: a child engages in imaginative play, building, and creativity in class.


Tigerville Elementary School

25 Tigerville Elementary School Rd, Taylors, SC 29687

Tigerville Elementary School is a top-rated school in Taylors under the Greenville 01 School District. The school serves about 277 kids in prekindergarten through fifth grade. The US Department of Education gave the school the National Blue Ribbon designation in 2018. 

Students at Tigerville perform better than most of their peers across the state, with most performing at or above the proficiency requirements for their grades. According to state assessments, 84% attain proficiency in English, 87% in math, 90% in science, and 100% in social studies. 

Students also participate in numerous extracurricular activities to develop social and leadership skills. Your child can enroll in the art club, chorus, morning news team, running club, safety patrol, student council, and Wee Deliver. 

Tigerville Elementary has one teacher for every fifteen kids. The faculty team is highly qualified. 95% of the teachers have more than three years of teaching experience. Additionally, all full-time instructors are certified. 

The school has a full-time nurse that caters to the kids’ medical needs. It also has a part-time social worker, psychologist, and law-enforcement officer on staff. On a web review, a parent expressed their delight with the school, citing its fantastic staff. 

Meeting Street Academy-Spartanburg

201 E Broad St #110, Spartanburg, SC 29306

Meeting Street Academy-Spartanburg is a highly-rated public elementary school within the Spartanburg 07 School District. The school received the 2021 National Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Department of Education. Meeting Street serves approximately 325 kids in prekindergarten through fifth grade. 

The school offers unique pedagogies in its approach to learning, with Wit and Wisdom for the ELA curriculum, Eureka Math for math, and Mind Over Matter, for the kids’ mental health. This unique approach to education is highly effective, with 94% attaining proficiency in math and 88% in English. 

The school also runs a gifted and talented program for academically gifted kids. Your child may also participate in numerous extracurricular activities, including athletics, clubs, and art. Meeting Street Academy supports fine art, music, robotics, Girl Scouts, running club, basketball, and swimming team.  

The school has one of the best student-teacher ratios in the state, with one teacher for every nine kids. The small class sizes allow the teachers to provide personalized instruction and feedback. Meeting Street Academy also has a full-time nurse and a part-time law enforcement officer on staff. 

Best Middle Schools

Rollings Middle School of the Arts

1635 Beech Hill Rd, Summerville, SC 29485

Rollings Middle School of the Arts is a top-rated public school in Summerville under the Dorchester County School District 02. It provides an art-infused curriculum to roughly 791 sixth through eighth-grade students. The school received the National Blue Ribbon designation in 2020. 

Rollings Middle School offers an integrated curriculum that fosters creative expression through the exploration of the arts. Core art offerings in the school include piano, strings, theater, dance, band, visual arts, and vocal music. 

The students also excel in common core subjects, with state assessments indicating 81% of students attain proficiency in math and 88% in reading. The school also offers a STEM program through the PLTW Gateway curriculum. Rollings Middle also runs a gifted and talented program that helps identify and support gifted kids. 

The school has numerous athletic teams that help students develop their talents and abilities outside the classroom. Rollings Middle has one teacher for every eighteen kids, which may result in relatively larger class sizes. However, the faculty is highly experienced, with 97% having over two years of teaching experience and all full-time teachers holding certifications.

A former alum describes Rollings Middle on Niche.com as having a great atmosphere and a fantastic faculty. The former student further claims the school made them feel ready for high school, having earned five credits. 

In the News

Not only does this middle school produce successful and bright students, but it also makes headlines in the news. Let's take a look at a couple of recent articles:

Pleasant Knoll Middle School

2320 Pleasant Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29708

Pleasant Knoll Middle School is a public middle school in Fort Mill within the York 04 School District. It serves approximately 932 students in sixth through eighth grade. The school takes pride in fostering meaningful relationships among the students and delivering a high-quality education to the kids. 

Pleasant Knoll Middle students perform excellently in standardized tests, with most attaining or exceeding the proficiency mark set by the state. 80% are proficient in math and 76% in reading. The school offers the PLTW Gateway curriculum that provides an excellent foundation for careers in STEM. 

Your child may also enroll in rotational art programs such as visual arts, computer technology, theater arts, band, chorus, physical education, Spanish, and FACS (Family and Consumer Science). 

The school enjoys a relatively low student ratio of 14:1. The teachers are also highly qualified. All full-time teachers are certified. 87% of all instructors have three years or more of teaching experience. Pleasant Knoll has a full-time nurse and law enforcement officer on its payroll. It also has a psychologist that caters to the kids’ emotional needs. 

Charleston County School of the Arts

5109 W Enterprise St B, North Charleston, SC 29405

Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) is a highly-rated, public arts magnet school within the Charleston 01 Schools District. It serves roughly 1,086 students in sixth through twelfth grade. The students undertake a rigorous, art-infused curriculum that guarantees success in college and beyond. 

Charleston County School of the Arts offers rich and intensive instruction in eight art majors in middle school. If your child continues to twelfth grade, they will be exposed to nine art majors. The art majors include instrumental band, string orchestra, visual arts, theater, vocal music, piano, dance, and creative writing. High school students can also major in Fashion and design. 

Students at Charleston County SOA excel in standardized tests, with 90% gaining proficiency in reading and 83% in math. The school also runs a robust gifted and talented program. Additionally, it provides numerous extracurricular opportunities, with seven clubs and organizations for the middle school section. 

Parents at Charleston County School of the Arts are pleased with the school, with one describing the faculty as fantastic. The parent continues to note that their daughter missed several weeks due to a medical issue, and the teachers were more than supportive to help her catch up. 

Best High Schools 

Mayo High School for Math, Science & Technology

405 Chestnut St, Darlington, SC 29532

Mayo High for Math, Science & Technology is a top-rated magnet school in the Darlington 01 School District. The school received the National Blue Ribbon award in two different years, in 2013 and 2020. The designation speaks highly of the quality of education provided at the school. Mayo High is home to roughly 313 students in grades 9-12. 

The school offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, boasting a 100% graduation rate. 90% of these graduates enroll in a college program. The school has an SAT participation rate of 21%, with students scoring an average of 1083. It also earned a 41% ACT college preparation rate, with an average score of 21. 

Mayo High has opportunities for its students to earn college credits while in high school through honors courses, advanced placement programs, and dual enrollment classes. The school offers five advanced placement courses and sees a 21% participation in dual enrollment classes. It also provides a special STEM program under the PLTW Engineering curriculum. 

Your child may also participate in several extracurricular activities. Mayo High has over 32 clubs and organizations, with students encouraged to create new ones and express themselves. The school also has 13 athletic teams your child may be interested in. 

Governor's School for Science and Mathematics

401 Railroad Ave, Hartsville, SC 29550

Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) is a public, in-resident, tuition-free school in Darlington County. The school provides uniquely challenging experiences to roughly 270 top students in South Carolina. It serves eleventh and twelfth-grade students. 

GSSM’s rigorous curriculum guarantees its students are ready for advanced coursework in college and life beyond. The school offers over 50 STEM classes, with opportunities to study everything from biochemistry to robotics. All students graduate after two years, and all proceed to college. 

All students sit for the SATs, with the school having an average score of 1,353. The school has an SAT college preparation rate of 92%. Students who sit for the ACT have an average score of 28. 

GSSM offers over fifteen AP courses in which 96% of the students enroll. The programs provide the students with a chance to earn credits. The school also has a robust dual enrollment engineering program in which 5% of the students participate. 

The school has an excellent student-teacher ratio, with one instructor for every ten students. It allows the learners to receive individualized instruction and feedback on their academic progress. The school is an excellent choice for families searching for an academically rigorous environment for their kids. 

In the News

With its rigorous program and numerous courses, the Governor's School is making waves in education. Now let's find out what headlines the school made:

Academic Magnet High School

5109 W Enterprise St B, North Charleston, SC 29405

Academic Magnet High School is a highly-rated public magnet school in Charleston 01 School District. The school has earned national recognition, with US News ranking it the second-best high school in the nation. The school has a student enrollment of roughly 712 in grades 9-12. 

Academic Magnet High is a county-wide magnet that focuses on scholastic rigor and excellence. It enjoys a 100% graduation rate, with all students transitioning to college. Academic Magnet High also has a 96% SAT college readiness index and a 64% for ACT. 

The 2021 graduating class had a combined average of 1370 on SAT and 30.3 on ACT. 69% of the students participate in 25 advanced placement course offerings available, giving them a chance to earn college credits. The school also offers two special STEM programs under the PLTW, the Engineering and Computer Science Curriculum. 

Students can also participate in extracurricular activities, with over fifty student-run clubs and organizations. Your child may also enroll in one of the twenty-three varsity sports teams. Academic Magnet High is an excellent choice for families in Charleston searching for a well-rounded education for their kids. 

Teenage school kids smiling to the camera in the school corridor
Smiling faces and high spirits: these high school kids pose for the camera.

©Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

Finding The Right School For Your Child

South Carolina played a critical role in the nation’s founding and subsequent history, especially during the Civil War. The Palmetto State is home to numerous prestigious schools, from traditional, high-performing elementary and art-infused middle schools to STEM-focused magnet high schools. 

Most schools on this list have earned national recognition for their academic performances. This guide will provide an excellent starting point for families searching for the ideal learning environment for their kids. 

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