to a friend Printer
For immediate release
Sept. 10, 2003
ABCs Investment Pays Off;
Student Test Scores Reach
Highest Level and Achievement Gaps are Closing
North Carolina has stayed the course on school improvement efforts since
1995 when the ABCs of Public Education was first approved, and this year,
the pay-off was the highest ever.
The percentage of students performing at the proficient level, also
considered grade level, is the highest in state history. Achievement
gaps among different racial groups narrowed significantly and across
The state's 2002-03 ABCs accountability results were approved
by the State Board of Education today and reported at a news conference
at Wakefield High School in Wake County.
Black students and American Indian students gained approximately 10
percentage points each between 2001-02 and 2002-03, the school year reflected
in the information provided today.
While the achievement gap between white and black students remains the
largest gap among ethnic groups, the gap has been reduced to 21.9 points,
down from 34.3 points in 1996-97, the first year of the ABCs.
"These gains prove that our commitment
to protecting our investments in education is paying off," said Gov.
Mike Easley. "Even
in tough economic times our students and our schools are making dramatic
progress." (Governor's Press Release, pdf, 88k)
Nearly three-fourths of all schools – 72.9 percent — met
the standards for high growth in 2002-03. Nearly every school in the
state — 94.3 percent – met expected growth or better. Only
5.6 percent of schools, 124, had growth in student achievement that was
less than expected. This was a large decrease from 2001-02, when 25.1
percent of all schools fell short of their goals for student achievement
Sixty-one percent of all schools, or 1,359, earned recognition in 2002-03
as either Schools of Distinction or Schools of Excellence, the two highest
performance categories under the state's accountability model.
In order to earn recognition as a School of Distinction, schools must
have met at least expected growth and have 80-89 percent of their student
test scores at grade level or above. To be a School of Excellence, a
school must meet or exceed its growth goals and have 90 percent or more
of its student scores at grade level or above.
"North Carolina has seen steady improvements over the past seven
years. This year's positive results did not come overnight or without
tremendous effort by students, teachers and principals. The excellent
news we are receiving today is the result of focused efforts at every
level to help every student reach proficiency," said State Board
of Education Chairman Howard Lee. "The General Assembly has provided
unparalleled support for our schools, and schools have done what's
right. They've studied the data, put resources where they're
needed, celebrated success, and the results are clear. This is great
news for our state."
State Superintendent Mike Ward, in announcing the ABCs results, said
that the results were very rewarding for anyone who cares about public
schools. "Students made significant gains in 2002-03. Achievement
is up for all students and performance gaps have narrowed. We owe a great
deal of thanks to the teachers and principals in our schools. While these
improvements are the result of many people's efforts, the teachers
in the classroom and principals in each school have done the heavy lifting
that has led to this success. The business community is providing unprecedented
support for our schools, and parents are more engaged in their children's
Achievement gaps narrow
The reduction of in achievement gaps was especially welcome news to
state educators who have been focusing attention on this issue for the
past several years. Although some groups' scores continue to be
lower than they should be, the gaps are closing more quickly than at
any other time. At the same time, overall achievement for the state and
for the top groups continued to rise as well.
A total of 88.8 percent of white students scored at or above grade level
in both reading and mathematics in grades three through eight, up from
84.4 percent in 2001-02. The percentage for black students was 66.9 percent,
up from 56.6 percent in the previous year. The percentage at grade level
for the state overall was 80.8, up from 74.7 percent.
For Hispanic students, 70.2 percent performed at or above grade level
in 2002-03, up from 62.1 percent in 2001-02. For American Indian students,
72.3 percent performed at or above grade level in reading and math in
2002-03, up from 62.7 percent in the prior year.
For Asian students, 87.4 percent were at or above grade level on the
end-of-grade tests, up from 82.1 percent. For multiracial students, 83.9
percent performed at or above grade level on the tests, an improvement
from 77.6 percent.
Most NCLB targets met
In addition to achievement gap information,
summary information regarding the state's performance under the
federal No Child Left Behind law was available for the first time. This
showed that North Carolina
schools overall met 90.5 percent, 33,419, of the 36,917 targets that
schools had to meet. Most schools, about 68 percent, met more than 90
percent of their targets. Because schools that miss even one target are
not considered to have made Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal
definition, 46.9 percent of schools made AYP. NCLB requires that schools
meet specific performance targets each year for every group of students,
culminating in 100 percent proficiency by 2013-14.
Schools have strong intervention programs
Over the past several years, significant state and local efforts have
been targeted toward improving student achievement. Together, all of
these efforts have helped to drive improvements in learning and school
performance. North Carolina legislators have supported efforts to help
low-performing schools and students by providing additional financial
resources for high priority schools and students not yet at grade level.
North Carolina has been a leader in the area of closing achievement gaps
by sharing best practices, by adding a closing the gap requirement to
the ABCs and by focusing local efforts on helping all students grow academically.
Many schools have implemented intervention programs for students below
grade level, including additional instructional time, tutoring options
and other supplements. Also there has been a very strong effort to align
classroom instruction to the state's Standard Course of Study and
to ensure that student time is spent on instructional activities.
Assistance teams assigned
This year, only six schools statewide met the criteria of low-performing
schools. The State Board of Education approved the assignment of State
Assistance Teams to three of the low-performing schools. The other three
low-performing schools are charter schools. Assistance teams of experienced
educators have been assigned to some low-performing schools each year
since the ABCs began to help these schools improve academic performance.
Voluntary assistance is provided to other schools upon request and as
ABCs background information
The ABCs results for 2002-03 that were released today provide school-by-school
performance results for all of the state's 2,219 schools that were
assigned an ABCs status. North Carolina's accountability model
was implemented in 1996-97 in K-8 schools, and then in high schools in
1997-98. The model focuses on schools meeting growth expectations for
student achievement as well as on the overall percentage of students
who scored at grade level or better. Schools are recognized in several
categories. In addition to the Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction
categories, Schools of Progress are schools that have 60-79 percent of
their students' scores at grade level or better and that meet their
growth goals. Priority schools are those with less than 60 percent of
students at grade level or better, but are not low performing. Low-performing
schools are identified if they do not make expected growth and have less
than 50 percent of student scores at grade level or better.
The ABCs of Public Education emphasizes accountability at the school
level and instruction in basic, core subjects. The model uses end-of-grade
tests in reading and mathematics to measure student achievement in grades
3-8 and prediction formulas for end-of-course tests for growth. It uses
end-of-grade tests in grades 3-8 in reading, mathematics and computer
skills for the performance composite at the elementary and middle school
levels and end-of-course tests at the high school level.
At the high school level, the accountability measures are more numerous
and include student performance on the 10 mandatory end-of-course tests.
These are: Algebra I; Algebra II; Biology; Chemistry; Economics, Legal
and Political Systems; English I; Geometry; Physical Science; Physics;
and U.S. History. Other measures include the percentage of students completing
College/University Prep or College Tech Prep courses of study, change
in the competency passing rate between grades 8 and 10, and the ABCs
For more information about the ABCs report, please contact Lou Fabrizio,
DPI Director of Accountability Services, at 919-807-3770. The complete
ABCs report is available online in a searchable format at http://abcs.ncpublicschools.org.
Back to NCPublicSchools