Best SC Schools & School Districts By Town, Region, City & Market (2023)

South Carolina is the #29 largest school system in the United States, serving 777,228 students across the 1,264 public schools for the 2021 school year. As someone who was born and raised in South Carolina, I have always heard the jokes and slights about my beloved state of birth, and sometimes I can understand why some think the way they do. Sure we have our share of undesirable metrics and low scores the public sees on the “news”, but truthfully most of it is inaccurate. Like all states, there are of course some areas, some communities, and regions where data points can be alarming, but by in large that is not the case and especially in the metropolitan areas and cities. If you have small children picking the right school district is extremely important especially if you don’t want to move every time your children move up. Check SC best School Districts.

VIEW THE BEST SCHOOL DISTRICTS in SC in the order below. (ones in blue are the larger city/housing markets of SC)

  • Fort Mill – The top right of SC near Charlotte ranks #1
  • Lexington District 5 – #2 (in Columbia region)
  • Clover SC – #3 Again near the Fort Mill area
  • Spartanburg District 1 – Upstate of SC Ranks #4
  • Lexington District 1 – Columbia SC Midlands Ranks #5
  • Spartanburg District 6 – Spartanburg Upstate
  • Spartanburg District 7 – Spartanburg Upstate
  • Anderson District 1 – The Spartanburg Upstate
  • Dorchester District 2 – Includes Summerville SC
  • The Entire Charleston County School District #11
  • Horry County #12 (makes up all Myrtle Beach)
  • Greenville County #13

One of the biggest misconceptions about South Carolina is the education system. Yes, we do usually rank at the bottom of many statistical categories (45th in math & reading) however, those are overall scores which include the scores of rural & poor regions. This can be said for all states, every state has those types of towns., but it doesn’t represent the state in its entirety. As a parent myself this is something I take VERY seriously.

I grew up in Columbia SC, specifically Irmo SC a suburban town in the capital city of Columbia, and all three of my schools from elementary to high school were all highly ranked both locally, and nationally. My high school Irmo HS had the best band in the United States, the best soccer team in the country, our debate team was amazing as were the math programs, national honors society, and more. Irmo was a large AAAA public high school with 3000 kids in a graduating class.

I now live in Charleston SC, since 1999, in a town called Mount Pleasant, and ALL the schools in my surrounding area are some of the best in not only SC but the nation comprised of public schools, private, charter, and magnet schools. I think it probably comes as no surprise most of the best schools in SC on this list are in the Charleston area, as Charleston is the most popular and wealthiest region in the state. So the tax dollars and income are there to support the educational systems.


Magnet schools are available to all students within a school district or designated metro area, regardless of address. Their curriculum centers around a particular specialization, such as STEM, performing arts, or world languages. Magnets are accountable to the local school board and to the state,just as traditional public schools are, and are held to the same academic standards.

Here are some of the best high school systems and schools in the state of SC by region and according to US News & World Report’s latest 2021 study. There are of course other ranking systems and metrics by other institutions and publications so do your research.


(Video) 7 BEST Schools in Columbia, SC

#1 Academic Magnet in North Charleston – Oddly, North Charleston is considered locally to be one of the worst sides of town in all of Charleston to live. Most of these kids are almost certainly bused in or brought by parents and do not live in N. Charleston. CLICK HERE to see the school details.

#2 Charleston School of the ArtsRanked #208 Nationally. Also in North Charleston, this school is focused on fostering the arts in addition to a traditional curriculum. CLICK HERE to see details.

#3 Wando High School in Mt Pleasant SC – Is a large class AAAAA public high school. CLICK HERE to see details from USNEWS. Mt Pleasant is considered the most desirable suburban town in all of Charleston SC if not the whole state.

#14 Palmetto Scholars Academy – Again like Academic Magnet, also located in North Charleston, this school is ranked 14th within South Carolina. Is the #1 public Charter school in SC. CLICK HERE to see details.

#20 James Island Charter SchoolJames Island is an island town in between the city of Charleston and Folly Beach. Known for a traditional “Low-country” lifestyle James Island is one of the more popular suburban towns of Charleston only behind Mount Pleasant. CLICK HERE to see details.

#35 Ashley Ridge High School – In Summerville SC, one of the outer towns of the Charleston SC coastal region it is about 30 – 40 mins drive to the beach and city of Charleston. As a whole Summerville is considerably more affordable than the towns closer to the city and beaches. CLICK HERE to learn more.

#36 Fort Dorchester High School – located in North Charleston,

#39 Charleston Charter School for Math & Science

#43 Summerville High SchoolObviously in Summerville SC a “blue-collar” town mostly, Summerville is a great high school and one of the better school districts systems in the Low-country tri-county area according to Dorchester District #2 ranks #10 in all of SC for their assessment.

#45 Oceanside Collegiate AcademyMt Pleasant SC‘s charter school – children have an opportunity to earn four (4) years of a solid honors/college core curriculum, a high school diploma, up to 60 credits of college coursework. The school website offers more information. CLICK HERE to see details.


#5 Chapin High School in ChapinSC – Is a large class AAAA public school. CLICK HERE to see details. Chapin SC is near Lake Murray, a large reservoir popular to everyone who lives in the Midlands of SC. Chapin High School website. Known for an exceptional soccer program.

(Video) Best School Districts in the Charlotte Area

#9 Dreher High School in Columbia SC – Dreher Highisranked #1,524in theNational Rankings. Schools are ranked on their performance on state-required tests & graduation. In the 60s & 70s this used to be one of the premier high schools of the midlands region but as the area grew other surrounding towns of Columbia began to grow and Dreher’s status as one of best began to decline. CLICK HERE to see details.

#11 Blythewood High School –Blythewood is a town outside the city of Columbia and has grown substantially since even the early 2000s as the Midlands began to expand outside the city more.

#15 Spring Hill High School in Chapin SC – As Chapin began to grow quickly in the 2000s, the need for another high school arose, and out of that came Spring Hill. Lexington District 5 is one of the better school districts of the Columbia area. CLICK HERE to see more.

#16 Lexington High School in (you guessed it) Lexington SC – One of the best school districts in the Midlands Columbia region, and near Lake Murray Lexington High School grew much as Irmo High did in the 1990s and 2000s before River Bluff was constructed to take some pressure off.

#19 Dutch Fork High School in Irmo SC – First opened in 1993, Dutch Fork was built to help alleviate the ever-growing area of Irmo at the time, as Irmo High had become too large. Originally started as a AAA school it quickly grew into AAAA shortly thereafter. Very popular neighborhoods for this school include Ascot Estates.

#22 Spring Valley High School in Columbia. Once centered around Spring Valley Country Club community, Spring Valley high school turns out great students and quality teachers. Now a magnet school it once was a large standard public high school. CLICK HERE to learn more.

#32 Ridgeview High School in Columbia

#34 River Bluff High School in Lexington –

#50 A.C. Flora High School Located in the city of Columbia, A.C. Flora in the 60s & 70s was one of the better schools in the city of Columbia, but like Dreher High it too has seen a decline in performance as the tax dollars left for the suburbs, and private schools. CLICK HERE to learn more.


#7 Wade Hampton High School in Greenville SC – This high school is ranked #1 in Greenville and is a large AAAA public high school. Unfortunately, it is named after an unsavory historical figure of the pre-civil war era. CLICK HERE to learn more.

#12 D.W Daniel High School in Central SC – This high school is in the upstate near Clemson University. CLICK HERE to learn more. Located in Pickens County,

(Video) Best School Districts in the Des Moines Area - 2022

#18 Riverside High School in Greer SC –

#25 Greenville Senior Academy High School

#27 Chapman High School

#31 Woodruff High School

#37 Spartanburg High School in Spartanburg –

#38 Walhalla High School

#40 Powdersville High School – in Anderson SC

#45 Wren High School – in Piedmont SC – Anderson County

#46 Mauldin High School Located in Greenville County, Mauldin is a fast-growing town in the Greenville market.

#47 East Side High School

#49 Greer Middle College Charter School


(Video) 10 Places in SOUTH CAROLINA You Should NEVER Move To

#18 Carolina Forest High School in Myrtle Beach SC –Located in Horry County

#24 St James High– Located in Murrells Inlet SC a small coastal town between Myrtle Beach and Pawley’s Island.

#33 Socastee in Myrtle Beach –

#42 Aynor High School

#48 North Myrtle Beach High School

Florence SC (Florence is a small town way outside of the Myrtle Beach market but since Mayo is ranked #4 it should be noted)

#4 Mayo High for Math Science and Technology –Mayo High for Math Science and Technology (Darlington SC) is ranked fourth within South Carolina. Students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement® coursework and exams. The AP® participation rate at Mayo High for Math Science and Technology is 49%. Florence SC is a less economically diverse smaller town with few opportunities for economic growth. CLICK HERE for more details.

Other Recognized Schools of SC

(According to

HCS Early College High School in Conway SC which is the Myrtle Beach SC “Pee Dee” region of South Carolina. Magnet School.

Bashier Middle College in Simpsonville SC – in The Upstate of South Carolina Charter School.

Buist Academy in Charleston SC – Magnet school

Greenville Technical Charter School –

(Video) 7 Best Places To Live In South Carolina

Meeting Street Academy in Spartanburg –


What town in SC has the best schools? ›

According to data compiled by Niche, an education research platform, Fort Mill School District in Fort Mill, South Carolina, ranks as the best school district in the state.

What is the number One school district in South Carolina? ›

Fort Mill School District

#1 Best School Districts in South Carolina.

Where are good schools in South Carolina? ›

Here are the best colleges in South Carolina
  • Clemson University.
  • University of South Carolina.
  • Furman University.
  • Wofford College.
  • Presbyterian College.
  • The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.
  • College of Charleston.
  • Newberry College.

Where is the best place to live in South Carolina for families? ›


(Locals rate Forest Acres, Irmo, Seven Oaks and Blythewood as four of the best places to live in South Carolina for families.)

Which county in SC has the best schools? ›

The best school district in South Carolina is Spartanburg County School District One, which is based in Campobello and consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and a career center.

What is the best coastal town to live in South Carolina? ›

Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, and Charleston are three of the best coastal towns in South Carolina for newcomers and area natives alike. Once you have decided on a location, let Pam Harrington Exclusives guide you to a Lowcountry home that you'll love.

Where does SC rank nationally in education? ›

South Carolina Rankings
Higher Education#45
Pre-K - 12#42

What is the nicest town in South Carolina? ›

12 Best Cities in South Carolina to Live and Visit
  • Clemson[SEE MAP]
  • Georgetown[SEE MAP]
  • Summerville[SEE MAP]
  • Mount Pleasant[SEE MAP]
  • Rock Hill[SEE MAP]
  • Aiken[SEE MAP]
  • Columbia[SEE MAP]
  • Spartanburg[SEE MAP]
Feb 24, 2022

What is safest town city in South Carolina? ›

North Myrtle Beach is the safest city in South Carolina, according to our Safety Index.

What is the safest community in South Carolina? ›

Fort Mill

Another fast-growing community in South Carolina, Fort Mill came in high on our list primarily for its low overall number of crimes: just 2,237 per 100,000 people. These included 2,012 property crimes and 225 violent crimes per 100,000.

What is the fastest growing town in South Carolina? ›

#1: Charleston, SC

The city is best known for its rich history, well-preserved architecture, and friendly people.

Which Southern state has best schools? ›

After only Maryland, Virginia has the best school system in the South. Across several grade levels, students in Virginia outperform their counterparts in most other states by a number of measures.

Where is the cheapest safest place to live in South Carolina? ›

Here are the cheapest places to live in South Carolina that you will secretly fall in love with.
  • Get to Know South Carolina. ...
  • Cheapest Places to Live in South Carolina. ...
  • Parker. ...
  • Conway. ...
  • Chester. ...
  • Gaffney. ...
  • Cheraw. ...
  • Laurens.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the safest place to retire in South Carolina? ›

Our list of the best places to retire in South Carolina will bring to light the most beautiful and retirement friendly cities the state has to offer.
  1. 1 – Charleston, South Carolina.
  2. 2 – Hilton Head, South Carolina. ...
  3. 3 – Sumter, South Carolina. ...
  4. 4 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. ...
  5. 5 – Greenville, South Carolina. ...
Sep 20, 2022

Is South Carolina tax friendly to retirees? ›

South Carolina taxpayers ages 65 and older do not need to file a state income tax return. In addition, Social Security benefits are not taxed by the state of South Carolina. Overall, Kiplinger rates South Carolina as a tax-friendly state for retirees.

What is the cleanest city in South Carolina? ›

Real-time South Carolina Cleanest city ranking
#cityUS AQI
2Goose Creek21
4North Charleston23
6 more rows

What county has the best public education? ›

Top 100 School Districts in America in 2019
RankSchool DistrictCounty
1San Mateo County Office Of EducationSan Mateo County
2San Francisco County Office Of EducationSan Francisco County
3Santa Barbara County Office Of EducationSanta Barbara County
4Los Angeles UnifiedLos Angeles County
77 more rows
Dec 27, 2020

What county has the best education system? ›

These are the top countries viewed as having a well-developed public education system by global survey respondents.
  • Sweden. #1 in Well-developed public education system. ...
  • Denmark. ...
  • Germany. ...
  • Canada. ...
  • Norway. ...
  • Finland. ...
  • United Kingdom. ...
  • Netherlands.

Where is the safest place to live in Columbia South Carolina? ›

Blythewood. If you're looking for a safe Columbia suburb, you're not going to find many better options than Blythewood! About 20 minutes north of the South Carolina capital, this quaint community offers large plots of land and plenty of new construction.

Where is the best place to live down south? ›

5 Best Southern States To Live In
  • Arkansas.
  • Tennessee.
  • North Carolina.
  • South Carolina.
  • Virginia.

Is South Carolina a good place to retire financially? ›

South Carolina is a good state to live in or retire to because its climate is mild, and the state is, overall, affordable. A survey by Retirement Living has ranked South Carolina as the #4 best state to retire to. South Carolina has a lower cost of living and some beautiful beaches that are warm practically year-round.

What is the #1 educated state? ›

Educational attainment, adults 25 and older

Washington, DC is continuously ranked as the most educated region in the country, with 63% of the population receiving a bachelor's degree or higher as of 2021. Massachusetts followed closely with 47% of the population obtaining a bachelor's degree or higher.

Where does SC rank in poverty? ›

A new report shows South Carolina is ranked the 10th poorest state in the country.

How good is the education in SC? ›

South Carolina has the sixth worst school system in the United States, a new report shows.

Where is the best place to retire NC or SC? ›

South Carolina Is Tax-Friendlier to Retirees Than North Carolina. My colleagues on maintain the incredible Retiree Tax Map -- a state-by-state guide to taxes on retirement income, state sales taxes, property tax breaks for seniors, estate taxes, and more.

Is it cheaper to live in Florida or South Carolina? ›

Cost of living

Looking at those numbers, South Carolina is more affordable than Florida in every category but health care. However, it also has a smaller population and less land mass.

What is the cheapest beach to live at in South Carolina? ›

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, Is the Top Affordable Beach Town to Retire In, According to

What is the safest small town in the South? ›

Margaret, AL. Margaret, AL was ranked by Safewise as the number one safest city in the South. With only 0.89 violent crimes per 1,000 citizens, you don't have to worry about the safety of your loved ones or yourself while you enjoy the easygoing lifestyle of this charming Alabama town.

Is South or North Carolina safer? ›

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Certain states keep their residents safer than others, and according to a new study conducted by WalletHub, North Carolina is safer than South Carolina. When WalletHub measured the safest states in America, North Carolina ranked 21, while South Carolina ranked 42.

Is it better to live in NC or SC? ›

You can't go wrong for the most part when it comes to comparing the weather between North and South Carolina. They are both mild, comfortable places to live. Since South Carolina is closer to the equator, it has a bit warmer temperatures than North Carolina and is likely more ideal for going to the beach year-round.

Which Southern state is the safest? ›

Virginia. Virginia is the only state in the South that makes our rankings of the top 10 safest states. It is sixth best for violent crime and 11th best for property crime. It ranks 23rd in law enforcement employees per capita and 29th in spending per employee.

What are safe cities to live in South Carolina? ›

Here Are The 10 Safest And Most Peaceful Places To Live In South Carolina
  • Edgefield. Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr. ...
  • Fort Mill. Ted Abbott/Flickr. ...
  • Tega Cay. Charlie Cowins/Flickr. ...
  • Mount Pleasant. Simon/Flickr. ...
  • Bluffton. albedo20/Flickr. ...
  • Isle of Palms. Mike Burton/Flickr. ...
  • Hanahan. North Charleston/Flickr. ...
  • Walhalla. Let Ideas Compete/Flickr.
Oct 15, 2022

What is the whitest county in South Carolina? ›

South Carolina White Population Percentage by County
42 more rows

What is the fastest shrinking city in South Carolina? ›

Michael M. DeWitt, Jr. The Town of Hampton - Hampton County's county seat and most populated town - has now been ranked as the municipality with the largest population decline in South Carolina, and two other H.C.

What is the cheapest place to retire in South Carolina? ›

Compared to other towns Georgetown is definitely one of the most affordable places to retire in South Carolina. The typical home value of homes in Georgetown is $168,152.

Is it worth it to move to South Carolina? ›

Moving to South Carolina is a great opportunity to embrace the low-key Southern lifestyle and explore a diverse state with a rich history, fantastic food and scenery that will take your breath away. Its low real estate prices and property taxes make it a destination to not just visit but to live and possibly retire.

Why a lot people are moving to South Carolina? ›

But why South Carolina? It's no secret that the further south you go in the United States, the less expensive housing becomes. This is why many people are turning to South Carolina. The cost of living is around 11.5% cheaper than the national average.

Is South Carolina red or blue? ›

Like most southern states, South Carolina is a largely conservative, Republican state.

What is the number one school district in South Carolina? ›

Fort Mill School District

#1 Best School Districts in South Carolina.

What school is considered the Harvard of the South? ›

Vanderbilt University is known as the Harvard of the South and with good reason. The campus is an urban one and a located on West End Avenue and 21st Avenue.

What is the safest city to live in South Carolina? ›

A score of 0.25 or higher indicates a high level of safety and crime rates below national averages, i.e., a suitable community to settle down and raise a family in. Let's look at some of South Carolina's safest cities. North Myrtle Beach is the safest city in South Carolina, according to our Safety Index.

Does South Carolina have a good school system? ›

South Carolina has the sixth worst school system in the United States, a new report shows.

Are South Carolina public schools good? ›

The report ranked South Carolina high for its four-year college graduation rate and its pre-kindergarten program. But the state ranked low in reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a sampled test that is often called the nation's report card, and had low preschool enrollment.

What is the downside to living in South Carolina? ›

Bad Things About Living In South Carolina

Through significant income and sales taxes. Also, the summer temperatures can be very hot. If you prefer cooler climates. Furthermore, hurricanes and flooding are not uncommon.

What city in SC has the highest crime rate? ›

Dillon County had the state's highest violent crime rate in 2021 — 164 per 10,000 units of county population, the report said. Orangeburg (145), Darlington (110), Marlboro (92) and Florence (92) rounded out the top five.

Is moving to South Carolina a good idea? ›

South Carolina has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, making it a great place to raise a family. The major cities in SC have many job opportunities and low unemployment rates. South Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the country.

Where does South Carolina rank nationally in education? ›

South Carolina is #23 in overall education freedom. The state's best score is 12th for Regulation. South Carolina ranks #33 for school choice.

What state is #1 in education? ›

Education Rankings
1New Jersey New Jersey1
2Massachusetts Massachusetts2
3Florida Florida16
4Washington Washington11
48 more rows

Which state has best public schools? ›

Massachusetts has the highest rank for public schools across the country. The quality of education is exceptional, and safety is also high. It ranked highest in math and reading test scores out of all states. Students here also achieved the highest median ACT score.

Why are people moving out of SC? ›

The survey found 31.8% of Americans moved to be closer to family and 32.5% moved for a new job or job transfer. In South Carolina, retirement was the biggest reason for moving to the Palmetto State (36.56%), followed by family (28.85%) and lifestyle (23.66%), the study showed.

What is SC ranked academically? ›

It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 26,864 (fall 2021), its setting is city, and the campus size is 444 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. University of South Carolina's ranking in the 2022-2023 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #115.

Are schools better in North Carolina or South Carolina? ›

North Carolina and South Carolina both have work to do, but overall South Carolina came out on top compared to North Carolina. Across the country, math scores saw their largest decreases ever.


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