SC educators say scholarships tied to GPA may be deterring top students from tough classes

  • Follow Metro

COLUMBIA — Educators worry that lottery-backed scholarships tied to grades are deterring South Carolina’s top students from taking advanced courses in their senior year of high school.

Melanie Barton, director of the Education Oversight Committee, said students are telling guidance counselors they don’t want to jeopardize their chance of getting a scholarship by taking a tough course that could bring a low grade. It appears to particularly be a concern for students expecting to receive Palmetto Fellow scholarships, awarded to classes’ top graduates.

The system might actually deter high-performing students from challenging themselves academically, instead of encouraging students to take Advanced Placement or dual enrollment classes that allow them to earn college credit, Barton said.

“Senior-year students are saying, ‘Mom or Dad doesn’t want me to take that AP chemistry class because they don’t want to risk losing Palmetto Fellows.’ But the student really needs it because the student wants to be pre-med. The issue becomes money versus learning,” she said Tuesday.

The Education Oversight Committee does not yet have statewide numbers. Gov. Nikki Haley’s budget proposal for 2014-15 includes a clause that tasks the agency with investigating the potential problem and, depending on its findings, evaluating solutions. A report would be due by Dec. 1.

Barton said the reluctance seems to be a byproduct of the economic downturn, which heightened parents’ concerns about paying increasing tuition costs.

Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
Little Lamb 02/12/14 - 10:58 pm

Why in the world would this be a concern? The rules are set out, and the students can respond. If a student is concerned he might get a low grade in a tough class, then he shouldn't take that class. There should be no concern here, no shame. Just do what your dream leads you to.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs