COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The number of South Carolina public schools and districts receiving excellent or good ratings increased significantly this year.

That's despite a steady rise in the percentage of students living in poverty.

Data released Tuesday shows the state had a 27 percent increase in districts and 19 percent increase in individual schools achieving those top two rankings on 2012 report cards.

That means 61 percent of students attend the state's best-rated schools, compared with 9 percent who attend the worst. Thirty percent attend schools with average performance.

However, the report cards also show the state's worst-performing schools appear stuck there. Thirty schools have been rated at risk for four consecutive years.

Three of every four high school students statewide graduated on time this year.

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