Schools work to assess their own progress

Schools work to assess their own progress
February 05
00:00 2015

Both private and public schools are preparing to explain to parents the strides they’ve taken to improve student performance as the state gets ready to release  report cards for schools.

Per a recent law passed by the General Assembly, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction will be assigning each school a letter grade, A to F, based on the school’s performance. Supporters of the initiative believe that the grades will make it easier for parents to understand how local schools are doing.

For elementary and middle schools, a majority of the grade is based on student proficiency on state tests in grades 3 through 8, and the rest is based on student growth. In high schools, DPI uses graduation rates, ACT performance and other indicators, along with state tests to calculate the school grade. Those grades will be released today (Feb. 5).

Carter G. Woodson School, a charter school located in southeast Winston-Salem, is formulating its own grading scale. The school has adopted the state’s guidelines but has also added other factors.

“We chose to do one when we got what the state was measuring us by. We really felt that it was sterile (the guidelines) with all the practices we’ve had to put in,” said Ruth Hopkins, executive director at Carter G. Woodson. “We don’t feel that we are a failure school or that our children are failing because we honored the law and our children showed expected growth. We didn’t want to send the wrong message to parents that expected growth still means you failed. Expected growth does not mean you’ve failed.”

While the state looked at schools’ performance, achievement and growth, CGW would also include factors such as economically disadvantaged students, school size and make up, and students with limited English proficiency,

According to a media release, the school has a Spanish population of 55 percent with 32 percent of those students being limited in English proficiency, and 94 percent of the school’s population is on free or reduced lunch.

“We have to look at it through mental, home and cultural factors. We have to look at it through a lot of things that, as an educator, I feel should be inclusive,” Hopkins said. “That gauge is the depth and the breadth of how children learn and their motivation to achieve.”

The schools Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on a final resolution at its next board meeting on Monday.

Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Schools is fighting back with its own performance grading system. Superintendent Beverly Emory said in a media release that they system created its own system because the state’s didn’t accurately capture the work that school were doing. She believe the grades should include the growth students make from year-to-year and take poverty into account.  “Using one grade to measure a school’s progress is limiting, and we wanted it to better reflect student growth from one year to the next and the challenges of poverty,” Emory said. “At the same time, our grades show that we have much work to do. We want all of our schools to be As under any grading scale, and we will continue to work to that.”

The school system increased the state grade one letter grade if the school met or exceeded growth. To show those schools that are poverty-challenged, the grade was given a ‘+’ if more than 85 percent of a school’s students receive free or reduced-price lunch.

Under the school system’s model, 22 schools received an A; two schools received a B+; 13 received a B; 11 received a C+; eight received a C; six received a D+; six received a D; and five received an F+. Eight schools with special programs, such as The Children’s Center, Lowrance Middle, Carter High and Main Street Academy, were not given a grade.

The Board of Education unanimously approved the district’s model at its Jan. 27 meeting, again deciding that the district would focus on its goals of literacy in early grades, increasing the graduation rate and decreasing achievement gaps.


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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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