NC Public schools get two check-ups.

Published September 12, 2019

By Bob Luebke

The release of two reports in the last week provide some helpful insight into an often-asked question:  how are North Carolina public schools performing?

Last week the Department of Public Instruction released  2018-19  School Performance Grades, or as they are more commonly known, the school report cards. Schools grades are a combination of proficiency (80 percent) and growth (20 percent) scores.

Over a third (37 percent) of all public schools received an A or B grade, 41 percent of schools received a C grade. In addition, over 1 in 5 schools (21.7 percent), received a D or F grade and were classified as “low-performing”, an increase of eight schools over the previous year.

Test results reveal almost three quarters (73.3 percent) of North Carolina public schools met or exceeded their growth goals. Regarding proficiency, 45 percent of students in grades 3 -8 statewide scored at least a 4 or 5 in reading, a standard for College and Career Readiness. When the scoring threshold is expanded to 3 (Grade level proficient), the percentage increases to 57.2 percent.

Math test changes limit legitimate comparisons to previous years, there is still much to digest. Many schools see a rise in science scores and that’s good.  Still, the lack of Improvement in reading scores and the persistence of a chronic achievement gap is more than concerning.

Graduation rates were also included in the NC DPI report. North Carolina reported a 4-year graduation rate of 86.5 percent.  While graduation rates have improved significantly over the past dozen years, improvement has flattened out in recent years. In 2011-12 North Carolina’s 4-year graduation rate was 85.6 percent

Also last week,  Education Week (subscription required) released a Ranking of State School Systems. States were ranked according to three factors 1) chance for success, 2) achievement and 3) school finance; scores were combined into a final grade. The U.S received a grade of C (75.6 percent). North Carolina received a grade of 72 which equated to a C – letter grade. When compared to border states, North Carolina is in the middle, trailing Virginia (80.3 percent) and Georgia (73.5 percent) but ahead of both Tennessee (71.1 percent) and South Carolina (70.2 percent).

The results from both reviews are disappointing.  Even more disappointing is the fact that neither report seemed to generate much of a ripple in the news cycle.

Is accountability really accountability if few people care about it?