ABCS RESULTS SHOW STRONG GROWTH IN STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT K-8;
High Schools Post First Year's Results
The State Board of Education today released the school-by-school performance results of the state's public schools for the 1997-98 school year. This is the second year that K-8 schools have participated in The ABCs of Public Education and the first year for high schools under the ABCs accountability model.
Results showed that more than twice as many K-8 schools reached exemplary status in 1997-98, which means that the schools exceeded expected student achievement growth by approximately 10 percent. Overall, 83.9 percent of the elementary and middle schools met either expected or exemplary growth standards. In 1996-97, only 56.7 percent of the schools did that well. For the K-8 schools, a total of 65.9 percent or 1,075 schools were exemplary; 18 percent or 307 schools met expected growth. Another 262 schools, or 15.2 percent, had adequate performance.
"These results show us that North Carolina's public schools are working," said Gov. Jim Hunt. "Through the ABCs of Public Education, our schools are working like never before to put our children and their education first. At the same time, we're identifying the schools that need additional help to make sure they can give our children the best education possible."
High schools have just completed their first year under The ABCs high school accountability model, and 63 percent of the high schools, or 198 schools, reached exemplary status. Another 19.7 percent, or 78 high schools, reached expected gain. High school results also show 51 schools, or 12.3 percent, with adequate performance.
School performance under The ABCs will mean incentive bonuses for many teachers and other school personnel. Eligible personnel at schools that meet expected growth will receive gross pay of $750 for teachers and other certified personnel and $375 for teacher assistants. For schools classified as exemplary, teachers and other certified personnel will receive gross pay of $1,500 bonuses, and teacher assistants will receive $500 bonuses. Allotments will be made available to local school systems on August 7 to be distributed to personnel in individual schools. While many schools will be distributing these incentive funds as staff bonuses, schools' staffs set out the actual distribution plan for the funds in their school improvement plans.
State Superintendent Michael E. Ward praised teachers, principals and students for their efforts. "The ABCs results show us that 1997-98 was a year of learning for our schools. The fact is that schools in North Carolina are better today than they were a year ago. Teachers and principals are learning what works. Teaching the Standard Course of Study plus measuring results equals improved student performance."
Testing results this year show that the percentage of K-8 students who are performing at grade level or better in reading and mathematics has increased significantly. The proficiency increase from 1996-97 to 1997-98 more than doubled the increase from 1995-96 to 1996-97.
School performance in The ABCs model is reported three ways for K-8/9-12 schools: expected growth (gain at the 9-12 grades) in student achievement, exemplary growth (gain) for schools that meet expected and go substantially beyond it, and adequate performance for schools with more than 50 percent of their students at or above grade level (or proficiency, 9-12) but less than expected growth (gain). (For more detailed explanations, see the attachment, How ABCs Results are Reported).
State Board of Education Chairman Phillip J. Kirk, Jr., also a former classroom teacher, said that he is pleased that North Carolina is recognizing strong academic growth and rewarding staff. "The only way that we can improve the overall achievement of all our students is to reward student achievement growth. To have more than doubled the number of elementary and middle schools with exemplary growth means that more students are learning the basic subjects which they need. Next year, I hope we will see a similar trend for high schools."
The ABCs accountability model is the first time that North Carolina has measured student achievement school-by-school. While schools in the exemplary or expected categories are eligible for incentive bonuses, the ABCs model also includes ways to help low-performing schools improve. This year, only 15 K-8 schools (including seven charter schools) and 15 high 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 grade level and on their lack of achievement growth. Last year, the assistance teams of 3-5 educators each worked in 15 schools, helping staff to align the instructional program of the school with the Standard Course of Study, modeling and demonstrating effective instructional practices, coaching and mentoring teachers and locating additional resources for the schools. As a result of this assistance and extra help provided by local school systems, nearly all of these schools made exemplary growth this year and none are identified as low performing.
Also, this year, the state plans to broaden its assistance efforts to more schools that are low performing. State Board Chairman Kirk recently announced the formation of NC HELPS, North Carolina Helping Education in Low-Performing Schools. This effort is a joint project of the Governor's Office, the University of North Carolina system, North Carolina's community colleges and the State Board of Education/Department of Public Instruction. NC HELPS will provide financial resources (from state and federal funds), professional development, and services such as curriculum alignment and data analysis to low performing and at-risk schools.
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 control at the local level. The ABCs accountability model began in 1996-97 for schools teaching grades K-8. The K-8 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.
The high school model was delayed for one year to allow more time to develop an adequate model. The high school model focuses on five core courses required of all high school graduates: Algebra I, English I, Biology, Economic/Legal/Political Systems and U.S. History. Student achievement is measured through end-of-course test results, results from the English II writing test, and a year-to-year comparison of the percentage of students who graduate completing College Prep or College Tech Prep courses of study.
The ABCs accountability model is designed to measure growth, based on the idea that by encouraging growth, the overall level of student achievement in North Carolina will improve. While the accountability models target 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 http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/abc_results/results_98/ .
For additional information, contact DPI Division of Communication Services, 919.807.3450 or Division of Accountability Services, 919.807.3769.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.