New baseline for N.C. students after first round of testing

New baseline for N.C. students after first round of testing

(N.C.) More than a third of North Carolina’s 2,537 public schools were awarded top scores under the state’s new accountability system ushered in by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

At the same time, state officials reported last week that more than 20 percent of the schools received a grade of either D or F.

Because the matrix used to evaluate school and student performance changed as a result of the new federal education law, the 2017-18 scores are not comparable to grades issued during the five years that the state has utilized an A-F letter system.

But state officials are optimistic about the direction North Carolina schools are trending.

“The fact that fewer schools and districts are underperforming is positive news in this year’s accountability report,” State Superintendent Mark Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson also noted that new changes to curriculum that accommodates more personalized learning has also benefitted students.

“We know that students learn best when instruction is tailored to their needs,” he said. “So, we’re adjusting our supports for educators at the state level to help make that happen. Teachers are working hard and our state must transform our system to complement their efforts.”

The state accountability system is based exclusively on test scores for elementary and middle school students. High school performances also include graduation rates.

As a result of ESSA, all schools in North Carolina were held accountable for the proficiency of English learners.

On the positive side of the ledger, almost half – 48.1 percent–of all students in grades three through eight achieved scores in the top two tiers of the performance matrix in math.

In reading, 46 percent of the same students scored in the top two levels of the testing.

Taking a closer look, state officials reported that middle school students appeared to be doing the best statewide in both reading and math.

Third graders performed well on math, but less so on the reading assessment.

Poverty continues to challenge the system: almost seven out of ten schools serving the state’s lowest income communities scored at a D or an F level.

On the other end of the spectrum, less than 2 percent of schools with poverty rates of less than 20 percent, received a D or F.

Overall, nearly a third of schools met or exceeded their expected targets based on academic growth, while a similar number fell short of their expected result.

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