School Report Cards and School Performance Grades Released

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The State Board of Education released the School Report Cards and School Performance Grades today for all schools and school districts in North Carolina.

School Report Cards are issued annually to provide information about state test results, average class size, faculty qualifications, and other factors for each school and school district.  The Report Cards released today reflect data for the 2013-14 school year and include the new School Performance Grade.

School Performance Grades are traditional letter grades on an A-F scale with each letter grade having a 15 point range for the 2013-14 results.  K-8 schools receive separate grades for reading and math plus an overall grade, while high schools receive a single grade. School districts do not receive a grade.

            “The Performance Grades are important but it’s also important to keep them in context,” notes Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. “We can use grades as a starting point for seeing what we are doing well and what needs more attention, just as we would do for a student. However, we should keep in mind that there are some very important factors that cannot be captured in one letter or a number. It’s best to consider the grades in context with all the other data provided through the School Report Card, especially whether the school is meeting expectations for academic growth.”

The grades are calculated using a formula that gives 80% of weight to student academic achievement and 20% to academic growth during the year.   Although the formula is heavily weighted toward achievement measures, most educators believe that academic growth is a better measure of school performance. Achievement results often reflect the presence or absence of learning advantages available to students at home and in their community, factors beyond the control of schools.  For that reason, the amount of academic growth that students achieve during the school year is usually a better measure of how much schools are helping students improve their knowledge and skills.

State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson supports making growth a larger component of the grades, stating that “Growth is the most important indicator of a school’s impact on student learning.” She plans to work with the legislature to suggest that separate letter grades be provided for student achievement and growth.  Other educators and educational experts have called for giving at least a 50% weight to growth in calculating Performance Grades.

All schools in the WCS system met or exceeded expectations for student growth in 2013-14. As a district, the Watauga County Schools also posted proficiency results higher than the state average in all measures the state uses for performance grades.  In addition, WCS students significantly outperformed state averages on measures not used in performance grades, including the second highest SAT scores and the sixth highest Read-to-Achieve results out of the state’s 115 school districts.

A link to the School Report Card “snapshot” for each school will be available on the school website and paper copies will be provided on request in school offices.  A link to School Report Cards and a brief PowerPoint presentation explaining School Performance Grades are available on the news and data page of the Watauga County Schools website.  The direct link to the state’s School Report Card site is at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/src.

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