Every day, our journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues important to all North Carolinians.
Before you go …
If you like what you are reading and believe in independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism like ours—journalism the way it should be—please contribute to keep us going. Reporting like this isn’t free to produce and we cannot do this alone. Thank you!
Still, Western North Carolina’s school performance beats statewide success rate
Western North Carolina children are heading back to school on the heels of the recent release of federally mandated Adequate Yearly Progress accountability reports. The yearly reports gauge all U.S. public schools’ progress toward making sure every student meets reading, writing and math proficiency standards required by the No Child Left Behind law by the 2013-2014 school year. It is one of a set of rankings and reports parents, community members and others can use to learn more about school success.
Statewide, 27.7 percent — or 700 — of ranked schools met Adequate Yearly Progress goals for the 2011-2012 school year, according to a statistical summary of the growth and performance of the public schools during the that school year released Aug. 4 by the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction. The summary also showed that 72.3 percent of ranked schools across the state — or 1,830 — did not making Adequate Yearly Progress.
An analysis by Carolina Public Press shows that, in the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina, 44 percent — or 98 — of the 223 public schools assessed reached their educational goals for the previous school year, often called “making” Adequate Yearly Progress. This compares with 56 percent — or 125 — that did not. Charter schools are public schools and are therefore included in the Adequate Yearly Progress report grades. One school in Western North Carolina — Buncombe County Middle College — had an Adequate Yearly Progress status listed as N/A, or not applicable, and was noted as a Special Evaluation School.
According to the Adequate Yearly Progress reports, the three best-performing school systems in Western North Carolina were, in order, Polk, Mitchell and Madison counties. Polk County Schools was the only district in the region where all of its schools met all stated education goals.
Swain County, Buncombe County and Asheville City schools were the top three worst-performing systems in the area, according to the data. Swain County’s school system was the only one in Western North Carolina in which none of its schools made Adequate Yearly Progress. The Swain County School District posted additional accountability information on its website in response to the reports, including the statement that its federal “benchmarks increased dramatically during the 2010-2011 school year.”
The latest round of Adequate Yearly Progress reports come at a time when the Obama administration is looking to grant qualifying states waivers to No Child Left Behind’s requirements because Congress has not passed a bill yet to reform the law. The Herald-Sun in Durham recently reported that North Carolina plans to apply for a No Child Left Behind requirement waiver from the Obama administration in part because schools do not make Adequate Yearly Progress when just one target goal is missed.
Currently, not making Adequate Yearly Progress results in tiered levels of corrective actions, depending on whether the school or school district has not previously met its target goals. It can range from offering students the option of transferring to a different school or offering of supplemental educational services to replacing a school’s staff or completely restructuring the school’s curriculum and organization.
Students’ end-of-grade test scores and writing assessments are part of the analysis. Statistics are tracked by the student body as a whole as well as by the No Child Left Behind-specified demographic groups of white, African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and multi-racial students; economically disadvantaged students (those eligible for free or reduced-price lunch); limited English proficient students; and students with disabilities.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was built on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Title I of which guides distribution of federal funds to schools and school districts serving disadvantaged students, particularly children in low-income families.
No Child Left Behind “defines sanctions for all public schools with an emphasis on those schools receiving Title I funds that do not make (Adequate Yearly Progress) in the same subject for consecutive years,” according to an overview from the North Carolina Dept. of Public Instruction. “A Title I school that does not make (Adequate Yearly Progress) in the same subject for two consecutive years is designated as a Title I School Improvement school. The more years a school does not meet its (Adequate Yearly Progress) targets in the same subject, the more severe sanctions become.”
According to the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction website’s information about federal Title I funds, “about half the schools and all school districts in North Carolina receive Title I funding.”
For the 2010-2011 school year, the Western North Carolina schools that received Title I funds and were identified as needing improvement with regard to No Child Left Behind standards were the following:
- Claxton Elementary School of Arts and Humanities and Ira B. Jones Elementary in the Asheville City Schools district;
- Sugarloaf Elementary in the Henderson County Schools district;
- Smokey Mountain Elementary in the Jackson County Schools district;
- Macon County Middle in the Macon County Schools district;
- Eastfield Elementary, Glenwood Elementary, North Cove Elementary, and West Marion Elementary in the McDowell County Schools district; and
- Bowman Middle in the Mitchell County Schools district.
Sugarloaf Elementary in Henderson County was the only school on this list that subsequently made Adequate Yearly Progress during the 2010-2011 school year.
Additional North Carolina school accountability resource information includes:
- Adequate Yearly Progress report subgroup results for 2010-2011 and previous years that contain more details about individual schools;
- Graduation rates for four-year and five-year cohorts, or statistical groups, of students. For example, one graduation rates database tracks how many students who entered 9th-grade in the 2007-2008 subsequently graduated in 2010-2011 or earlier.
- Current and previous local education agency and school improvement statistics;
- North Carolina SAT reports from 1995 through 2010 that include statewide data and information about individual schools and school districts.
- North Carolina Report Cards, a searchable database for school information by school, district, county and city.
- Information links geared toward parents and guardians, including information about tests North Carolina requires elementary, middle and high school students to take. This “For Parents” section of the site also has information about testing students identified as limited English proficient and testing students with disabilities.
- “Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): The Basics,” a fact sheet produced by the North Carolina Dept. of Public Instruction.
- “AYP in NCLB: A Comprehensive Overview” also from the North Carolina Dept. of Public Instruction.
- North Carolina’s ABCs results for 2010-2011.