Test results regarding the performance and growth of North Carolina public schools were released yesterday. For the most part, the news was a mixed bag. And, to the dismay of many, there were few significant changes.
While news outlets and blogs are providing plenty of commentary, I’d like to share a few general observations
Grades. Let’s not forget North Carolina adopted a fifteen point grading system last year (A= 100-85, B=70-84 etc. etc. etc.). By definition the bar was lowered. Without the changes, things would have looked far worse.
Progress. When compared to last year fewer schools met overall targets for academic performance. A quick look at most charts reveals most categories had little change – some small gains and losses – from last year. There were no significant changes in overall trend lines.
College and Career Readiness: Get used to this phrasing. NCDPI is using this in place of the toxic phrase Common Core Standards which – to my knowledge – appears nowhere in any of the releases.
Charter Schools: A higher percentage of charter schools (48.6 percent) received top scores (either an A, both designations or B) than traditional public schools (29.3 percent). Though some charter schools are still struggling, overall they held their own when compared to their public school counterparts.
Graduation Rates. North Carolina’s improving high school graduation rate received much publicity. Progress is good and should be applauded. However the quality of the education is also important. We must remember that 52 percent of recent High School Graduates enrolled in one or more remediation class at local community colleges. Also, only 18 percent of North Carolina juniors met all four benchmark scores for college readiness on the ACT exam.
The Raleigh News and Observer quotes State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson as saying that it sometimes takes five or six years after a switch to see “a notable difference.” Five or six years? That doesn’t sound like accountability to me.