Five of the eight public schools in the Warren County Schools district received performance grades of D and F for the 2015-16 academic year, according to a report released last week by the State Board of Education/N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Background

This is the third year in which the state’s public schools, both traditional and charter, have been issued performance letter grades ranging from A to F. The grading comes as a result of legislation passed by the N.C. General Assembly in 2013 that established school performance grades based on test scores, and, in the case of high schools, other measurements for college and career readiness.

According to the State Board of Education/Department of Public Instruction, school performance grades are based 80 percent on student achievement and 20 percent on academic growth. Grades are based on test scores including end-of-grade mathematics and reading in grades three through eight, end-of-grade science in grades five and eight, and end-of-course tests in Math I, biology and English II, and the percentage of graduates who pass Math III, Algebra II or Integrated Math III.

High schools also are evaluated based on the percentage of 11th graders who meet the UNC System minimum admission requirement composite score of 17 on the ACT college entrance exam, the percentage of graduates with Career and Technical Education concentrations who score at silver level or higher on the ACT WorkKeys assessment, and the four-year graduation rate. The number of annual measurable objectives met by each school is no longer reported.

For 2015-16 results, a score of 85-100 is an A, 70-84 is a B, 55-69 is a C, 40-54 is a D, and 39 or less is an F. Schools that receive an A and do not have significant achievement and/or graduation gaps that are larger than the largest average gap for the state overall receive a designation of A+NG.

State results

Across North Carolina as a whole, 84 schools, or 3.4 percent, received a grade of A+NG; 86 schools, or 3.5 percent, received an A; 634, or 25.8 percent, received a B; 1,084, or 44.1 percent, received a C; 469, or 19.1 percent, received a D; and 102, or 4.1 percent, received an F.

The statewide four-year graduation rate, referring to students who earned their high school diplomas within four years, reached a record high 85.8 percent.

Local results

Results for the public schools in the Warren County Schools district were as follows:

Mariam Boyd Elementary School received a grade of D with an overall score of 48, and met expected growth. The overall percentage of students who were grade level proficient was 39.8 compared to 37.6 in 2014-15. In 2014-15, the school received a D and did not meet expected growth.

Northside K-8 School received an F with an overall score of 38, and did not meet expected growth. The overall percentage of students who were grade level proficient was 32.2 compared to 31.2 in 2014-15. The school received a D and exceeded expected growth in 2014-15.

South Warren Elementary School received a D with an overall score of 53, and met expected growth. The overall percentage of students grade level proficient was 46.1 compared to 48.2 in 2014-15. In 2014-15, the school received a C and exceeded expected growth.

Vaughan Elementary School received a C with an overall score of 59, and met expected growth. The overall percentage of students grade level proficient was 53.1 compared to 57.8 in 2014-15. The school received a C and exceeded expected growth in 2014-15.

Warren County Middle School received an F with an overall score of 42, and did not meet expected growth. The overall percentage of students grade level proficient was 29.2 compared to 31.7 in 2014-15. In 2014-15, the school received a D and met expected growth.

Warren County High School received a D with an overall score of 35, and did not meet expected growth. The overall percentage of students grade level proficient was 14.7 compared to 20.6 in 2014-15. Twenty-six percent scored at 17 or higher on the ACT, and 52. 6 percent earned a designation of silver level or higher on the ACT WorkKeys assessment. The four-year graduation rate was 64.5 percent. In 2014-15, the school received a D and did not meet expected growth.

Warren Early College High School received a C with an overall score of 67, and met expected growth. The overall percentage of students grade level proficient was 56.4 compared to 50.0 in 2014-15. Sixty-five percent scored at 17 or higher on the ACT, and 80 percent graduated within the allotted four or five years. Warren Early College allows students to earn both high school diplomas and associate’s degrees while in school. In 2014-15, the school received a C and did not meet expected growth.

Warren New Tech High School received a C with an overall score of 58, and did not meet expected growth. The overall percentage of students grade level proficient was 38 compared to 37.7 in 2014-15. The percent of students scoring at 17 or higher on the ACT was 42.1, and the school’s four-year graduation rate was 88.1 percent. In 2014-15, Warren New Tech received a C and did not meet expected growth.

School system response

Warren County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ray Spain said that the school system is “very disappointed” with the state scores.

“We don’t believe these grades reflect the quality of our students, nor the quality of education in our community,” he said.

Spain indicted that the school system is forming a district-wide data team consisting of all principals, assistant principals, counselors and up to two teachers from each school to analyze assessment results, determine areas to target for improvement and those needing more focus.

Spain said that their will be a greater focus on meeting the needs of teachers through professional development, support from content specialists in areas such as science, math and language arts, and emphasis on teacher planning.

“We’re reviewing teacher effectiveness and performance, and repositioning teachers where they can be more effective based on their strengths and performance,” he said.

Spain said that Warren County Schools recorded a number of successes in the 2015-16 school year, including all members of the WECHS Class of 2016 earning at least one college associate’s degree and all Warren New Tech seniors being accepted into college. However, he said that the local school system faces similar challenges as other rural, low-wealth school districts, such as recruiting and retaining teachers, which must be addressed.

Spain added that “there is not a direct correlation” between the school system’s uniform dress code policy and state test scores, although using uniforms allows schools to utilize instructional time more efficiently since clothing no longer distracts from learning.

He encouraged local parents and community residents to assist Warren County Schools in its educational efforts.

“We can’t do it alone,” Spain said. “We are reaching out and working with our schools to provide opportunities for parents, community members and organizations to volunteer and support our students. Parents are the first teachers, and as such, their ongoing role in their child’s education is pivotal to their success.”

More information

See next week’s edition for a more in-depth look at this year’s results for the Warren County school system and Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School, a public charter school.

To view the complete report for the state’s traditional and charter public schools, go to ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting/.