Yesterday was a big day for those who watch the progress of public education in North Carolina. The Department of Public Instruction released the results of the annual ABC tests and also data on graduation rates. Many education experts were ecstatic with the results. They include an increase in the 4-year graduation rate from 71.8 percent to 74.2 percent. The percentage of schools where student’s academic growth met or exceeded expectations rose to 87.9 percent (80.9 percent last year). In addition, the number of low-performing schools in North Carolina dropped from 75 to 16. For individual ABC test results click, here. For state graduation rates click, here.
Yes, the improvements are nice but my enthusiasm is tempered. First, I think the large jump in ABC scores should cause people to look more closely at results and ask why? No doubt the higher scores were influenced by DPI’s decision to allow high school students who failed end-of-course tests on their first try to have their retest scores included, not an insignificant change. Second, while ABC scores and graduation rates showed improvement, the minority performance gap remained largely unchanged. I’ll feel a whole lot better if the academic gains are replicated on National Assessment of Educational Progress tests (NAEP) or other standardized tests.