School performance data released Thursday by the State Board of Education show that the four year graduation rate at Watauga High School increased to a record high of 90.8% in 2016, the first time it has ever exceeded 90%.
In addition to achieving a record graduation rate, the data show that the Watauga County Schools exceeded statewide performance on nearly all of the student proficiency measures used in NC.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott commented that “the results show that our teachers continue to do excellent work. We have a workforce of exceptional quality and I am consistently impressed with the skills, the caring, and the professional commitment they display in our schools. These results also demonstrate the benefits of the strong parent and community support that we enjoy.”
Elliott noted that WCS students excel relative to the state as a whole, but added that “we will not be satisfied with outperforming statewide averages. Our teachers and principals will use this data and other resources to help strengthen instruction and better serve every student in our schools. Our vision is that the Watauga County Schools will be the very best district in NC to learn and work, and we are steadily building momentum to realize that vision.”
The data released is based largely on the state tests that measure students’ academic proficiency and growth for the previous school year. Proficiency is defined as the percentage of students meeting grade level standards. Growth is a measure of how much academic progress students make during the school year. For K-8 schools, results are based on End-of-Grade (EOG) tests for reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, science tests in grades 5 and 8, and the Math I End-of-Course (EOC) test for students taking Math I in middle school.
On the reading test for grades 3-8, 66.4% of WCS students achieved proficiency, well above the statewide figure of 56.9%. On the mathematics test for grades 3-8, 65.9% of WCS students demonstrated proficiency compared to 54.7% statewide. In science, 79% of WCS 5th graders and 84% of 8th graders achieved proficiency versus the statewide rates of 71.6% for 5th grade and 73.9% for 8th grade.
For NC high schools, proficiency and growth are measured mostly through EOC tests in English II, Biology, and Math I. The high school graduation rate, ACT test results for 11th
graders, and WorkKeys assessments for students with a concentration in career and technical education are also used to assess the performance of high schools.
The proportion of tested high school students achieving proficiency on the English II test was 70% in WCS versus 58.8% statewide. In Math I, proficiency rates were 58.5% in WCS and 60.5% statewide. For Biology, 60.6% of WCS test results demonstrated proficiency compared to 55.5% statewide.
Watauga High School students also outperformed state averages on the ACT and the WorkKeys test. The ACT is designed to measure college readiness and the state standard is a minimum total score of 17, which is the minimum required for acceptance in the UNC university system. On the ACT, 78.3% of Watauga High School students met the state standard compared to 59.9% of students statewide.
The WorkKeys test is an assessment tailored to the various fields of career and technical education offered in high schools. 78% of Watauga High School graduates taking the WorkKeys assessment met proficiency standards, exceeding the 73.5% statewide rate.
The accountability data released by the State Board of Education today includes School Performance Grades, an A-F letter grading system for schools first used for the 2013-14 school year. The grades are based on a formula that gives 80% of weight to student achievement and 20% to students’ academic growth. Under the formula used by the state, the overall grades received by schools in the WCS system were B’s and C’s.
Six of the district’s nine schools met the state’s targets for expected growth. Parkway School not only met the growth target but also exceeded it by a significant margin.
State test data for all schools and school districts in NC is available online from the NC Department of Public Instruction at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting. A link to this site is available on the Watauga County Schools website.