NC's graduation rate, school grades improve

Published September 1, 2016

by Kelly Hinchcliffe,, September 1, 2016.

North Carolina released its latest public school performance data Thursday, showing the state's graduation rate and school grades improved last year.


EducationFind your school: 2015-16 school performance grades

The state's graduation rate increased slightly, from 85.6 percent in 2014-15 to 85.8 percent last school year. This marks is the 11th consecutive year that the rate has improved. In 2005-06, the state's graduation rate was 68.3 percent.

"If I could do a back flip about the graduation rate, I would do that," State Superintendent June Atkinson told reporters Thursday.

The four-year graduation rate for students from low-income families increased by 1 percentage point from 2014-15, reaching 80.6 percent last year. The rate for black students increased by 0.7 points, to 82.9 percent. The gain for both the state overall and for white students was 0.3 percent from 2015 to 2016.


The state also released A through F letter grades for every public school in the state, including charter schools. Find out what grade your school received.

Three fourths of public schools in the state earned school performance grades of A, B or C in 2015-16. The proportion of schools receiving Ds and Fs fell last year to less than a quarter (23.2 percent) of all schools – a decline of nearly 20 percent among schools with the lowest grades over the last three years, from 707 to 571.

Comparing traditional schools to charter schools, 32.2 percent of traditional schools earned a grade of at least B, while 40 percent of charters made similar grades. At the other end of the scale, 22.9 percent of traditional schools received a D or F and 27.7 percent of charters received one of those grades.

The data show school grades continue to correlate closely with the poverty levels of schools. Among all schools last year that received a D or F, 93 percent had enrollments with at least 50 percent of students from low-income families. Conversely, among schools that received at least a B, 75.7 percent had enrollments with less than 50 percent of students from low-income families, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

All North Carolina public schools have received A-F letter grades since 2013-14, when the General Assembly passed legislation requiring it. Schools are also judged on whether their students exceeded, met or did not meet academic growth expectations during the year.

On state exams, the percentage of students proficient in math and science improved across all grades in elementary, middle and high school. However, reading and high school English performance was more mixed.

In grades 3-8, students' proficiency in reading increased to 56.9 percent from 56.3 percent in 2014-15. In math, the overall proficiency rate increased to 54.7 percent from 52.2 percent. Proficiency in science, tested in fifth and eighth grades and in high school biology, reached 71.6 percent in fifth grade, 73.9 percent in eighth grade and 55.5 percent in high school biology.

Another improvement coming out of Thursday's report was that the Halifax County school system is no longer considered low performing. The state has been working with the county under a court order since 2009 to improve student performance there.