During Wednesday's State Board of Education work session, state education officials released the latest school accountability reports for the 2017-2018 school year. The executive summary covers statistics on end-of-grade exams, graduation rates and the growth and performance grades for schools, as based on their students' end-of-year standardized tests.
The good news is that the number of low-performing schools and school districts - as defined by state law - has gone down. And there were 33 fewer schools identified as continually low performing.
The bad news is that 3rd grade reading scores are also down. That's despite efforts to improve third graders' reading levels with the statewide Read to Achieve program. And overall, many metrics, including high school graduation rates and the overall rate of students in the 3rd grade or above passing their end-of-year exams, have reached a plateau in recent years.
"When we dig into the data, we see that some results go up and some results go down, but consistently the trend is that we're not where we want to be for students," State Superintendent Mark Johnson said, later adding, "When you use status quo strategies, you get status quo results."
Johnson said he is excited to see schools incorporate more personalized learning and spend less time testing and more time on instruction, calling that a "key part" in improving results.
The state's Innovative School District (ISD) also released a list of schools under consideration for transfer to the district next year. The ISD is the state's program for taking over and reforming low-performing schools.
Now in its first year of operation, the program is set to expand. The district's Superintendent Eric Hall presented a list of qualifying schools to the State Board of Education yesterday. Fourteen schools qualified under state law. That's based on their latest performance data - and it's down from 48 schools last year. That reflects the overall decrease in the number of low-performing schools in the state. See here for the full list, and an explanation of the criteria used to select the schools.
But Hall also produced a shorter list of just six schools, some urban and some rural, that will be under consideration for transfer to the district. Hall has until mid-October to recommend 2 to 4 of those schools to the State Board of Education. Then, if approved by the board, under state law, those school boards will have the option of either transferring the school to the ISD or closing it.
Here is the Innovative School District's short list of schools under consideration:
Carver Heights Elementary, Wayne County Schools
Gaston Middle School, Northampton County Schools
Hillcrest Elementary, Alamance County Schools
Williford Elementary, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools
Fairview Elem, Guilford County Schools
Hall-Woodward Elem, Forsyth County Schools