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| Main ABCs Vol. I Page | Executive Summary | Special Conditions | Schools Not Included |

1998-99 ABCs Report Card, Volume I - Press Release

Press Release

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 11 a.m., Aug. 5, 1999 ATTENTION RADIO NEWS DIRECTORS: Audio from State Supt. Mike Ward is available on the ABCs Report by calling 1-800-532-0102. More Students Proficient at Reading and Mathematics Under ABCs

Testing results for the 1998-99 ABCs of Public Education show that the percentage of K-8 students who are performing at grade level or better in reading and math continues to increase, moving from 66.3 percent in 1997-98 to 69.1 percent in 1998-99. This represents a 9.1 percent increase since the ABCs began in 1996-97, when 60 percent were proficient.

The State Board of Education (SBE) today released the school-by-school performance results of the state's public schools for the 1998-99 school year. This is the third year that K-8 schools have participated in The ABCs of Public Education and the second year for high schools under the ABCs accountability model.

The number of schools achieving Schools of Excellence recognition doubled from 24 in 1997-98 to 50 in 1998-99. Schools recognized as Schools of Distinction also increased significantly, going from 290 in 1997-98 to 408 in 1998-99. A School of Excellence has at least 90 percent of its students performing at or above Achievement Level III and met or exceeded its expected growth/gain goal. A School of Distinction has at least 80 percent of its students performing at or above Achievement Level III.

Results showed that 1,167 (58.4 percent) K-12 schools reached exemplary growth/gain status in 1998-99, which means that the schools exceeded expected student achievement growth/gain by an amount determined by the SBE. Overall, 81.2 percent of the schools met either expected or exemplary growth/gain standards. In 1997-98, 83.9 percent of the K-8 schools and 83 percent of high schools did that well. Due to the variety of grade spans (6-12, K-12, etc.), the 1998-99 accountability model was changed to reflect a combined accountability model instead of a K-8 model and a high school model. For K-12 schools, 22.9 percent or 457 schools made expected growth/gain in 1998-99. Another 354 schools, or 17.7 percent received no recognition. The number of low-performing schools dropped from 30 to 13, 6 of which are charter schools.

Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., said that he was pleased with the continued strong performance of North Carolina's public school students. "I am so proud of the teachers and students here in North Carolina. For the third straight year, they have continued to rise to the challenge. Although there is still much work to be done, I am confident we are well on our way to being First in America in Education."

State Superintendent Michael E. Ward praised teachers, principals, and students for their efforts. "Teachers and principals have been under a lot of pressure to continue the academic improvements of the past few years. Results such as these make the effort worthwhile. I believe that as the new Student Accountability Standards are fully implemented, the pace of improvement will be even more rapid."

School performance in The ABCs model is reported in a number of ways for K-12 schools: expected growth/gain in student achievement, exemplary growth/gain for schools that exceed expected growth/gain by an amount specified by the SBE, and no recognition for schools with more than 50 percent of their students at Achievement Level III but who do not achieve expected growth/gain. (For more detailed explanations, see the attachment, 1998-99 ABCs Categories.)

State Board of Education Chairman Phillip J. Kirk Jr., said that he is pleased with the continued good showing of public schools. "The ABCs and Excellent Schools Act have provided a solid foundation for continued student achievement. Nationally, the state is recognized as only one of two states having all the components for a complete accountability system. The key to continued success is to maintain our momentum, focus, and bipartisan support in the General Assembly. It definitely is an exciting time for North Carolina public schools; we're on the right track to excellence."

School performance under The ABCs will again mean incentive bonuses for many teachers and other certified personnel. Eligible personnel at schools that meet expected growth/gain will receive gross pay of $750 for teachers and other certified personnel and $375 for teacher assistants. For schools classified as making exemplary growth/gain, teachers and other certified personnel will receive gross pay of $1,500, and teacher assistants will receive $500 bonuses. Incentive funds will be made available to local school systems on Aug. 6 for distribution to appropriate personnel.

The ABCs model is designed to help low-performing schools improve. Low-performing schools are those schools with less than 50 percent of their students performing at Achievement Level III and who do not achieve expected growth/gain. This year, 13 schools were identified as low performing.

A select group of low-performing schools are chosen each year to receive mandatory assistance based on the percentage of their students at or above Achievement Level III and on their lack of achieving growth/gain. Last year, assistance teams of 3-5 educators each worked in 11 schools helping staff align the instructional program of the school with the Standard Course of Study, modeling and demonstrating effective instructional practices, coaching and mentoring teachers, evaluating staff, and locating additional resources for the schools. Of those 11 schools assigned State Assistance Teams, nine met or exceeded their growth/gain goals under the 1998-99 ABCs model.

The ABCs of Public Education, a reform effort begun in 1995, emphasizes accountability at the school level; instruction in the basics of reading, writing and mathematics and core courses at the high school level; and control at the local level. The ABCs accountability model began in 1996-97 for schools teaching grades K-8. The model uses end-of-grade tests, already in place for several years at grades 3-8, and the state writing test at grades 4 and 7 to measure student academic growth from year-to-year. Last year, results from end-of-course tests given to middle school students were added to the model.

High schools were included in the 1997-98 school year with end-of-course tests focusing on five core courses required of all high school graduates: Algebra I; English I; Biology; Economic, Legal and Political Systems; and U.S History. Student growth/gain is measured through end-of-course test results, results from the English II writing test, the NC Comprehensive Test of Reading and Mathematics (where the same students are compared from the end of eighth grade to the end of tenth grade), a current year-to-baseline comparison of the percentage of students who graduate completing College Prep or College Tech Prep courses of study, and the change in passing rates on the high school competency tests from the end of eighth grade to the end of tenth grade.

The ABCs accountability model is designed to measure achievement and performance with the goal of improving the overall level of student achievement in North Carolina. While the accountability model targets achievement in basic or core subjects, the entire North Carolina Standard Course of Study covers a broader range of subjects which all students should study.

For complete, school-by-school results, visit the ABCs web site at

For additional information, contact the DPI's Communications Office at 919/715-1246, or the Division of Accountability Services at 919/715-1348.

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