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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03

NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: SEPTEMBER 12, 2002

STATE ASSISTANCE TEAMS SUCCESSFUL IN SUSTAINING GROWTH; FIVE SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE TEAMS IN 2002-03

Among the greatest benefits offered to North Carolina public schools identified as low performing under the ABCs of Public Education are the state assistance teams, according to a report from DPI's Division of School Improvement.

These groups of master teachers, school administrators, representatives of higher education and other professionals delve into all facets of school operations and assist in developing recommendations for improving student performance in low-performing schools.

"Far from taking over a school, these teams of educators collaborate with school staff, central offices and local boards of education over the school year to design, implement and monitor an implementation plan that can alleviate problems and improve student performance," said Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and School Reform Services Dr. Elsie Leak.

For the 2002-03 school year, five North Carolina public schools have been assigned state assistance teams: Northern Vance High, Vance County Schools; Southeast Halifax High, Halifax County Schools; Weldon High, Weldon City Schools; Hertford County High, Hertford County Schools; and Northampton High School - West, Northampton County Schools. The following 14 schools are eligible for voluntary assistance from the assistance teams: Wadesboro Primary, Anson County Schools; Windsor Elementary, Bertie County Schools; Teresa Berrien Elementary and Pauline Jones Elementary, Cumberland County Schools; Eastway Elementary, Durham Public Schools; Cook Elementary and Forest Park Elementary, Forsyth County Schools; Rhyne Elementary and Woodhill Elementary, Gaston County Schools; Fairview Elementary, Guilford County Schools; Riverview Elementary, Hertford County Schools; Westerly Hills Elementary, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Rich Square-Creecy Elementary, Northampton County Schools; and West Lumberton Elementary, Robeson County Schools.

Four of the public schools in Title I School Improvement will be required to provide public school choice as required under "No Child Left Behind." As such, parents with children in the following schools can choose to have their children transferred to another school in their district that is not in Title I School Improvement: Eastway Elementary, Durham Public Schools; Rhyne Elementary, Gaston County Schools; Northwest Halifax High, Halifax County Schools; and Goldsboro High, Wayne County Schools. Because Northampton High School - West has been low performing for three consecutive years, parents with children in this school also have the choice of transferring their children to a higher performing school in their district.

To determine the success of state assistance teams, Dr. Leak suggests looking at the performance composites of low-performing schools over time to see the academic benefits gained from hands-on help. From 1997-98 - 2000-01, 47 traditional schools and 13 charter schools were assigned assistance teams by the State Board of Education. Eighty-six percent of the traditional schools assigned assistance teams were removed from the low-performing list within one year and 69 percent of charter schools were removed from the low-performing list within one year.

Following are the performance results for these schools after receiving help from state assistance teams:

Traditional Schools:

SCHOOL YEAR SCHOOL SERVED EXEMPLARY GROWTH EXPECTED GROWTH NO RECOGNITION LOW PERFORMING
1997-98 15 13 1 1 0
1998-99 11 7 2 0 2
1999-00 7 2 2 1 2
2000-01 14* 4 2 2 2

*Four schools received voluntary assistance. Results reported were for those schools assigned assistance teams.

Charter Schools:

SCHOOL YEAR SCHOOL SERVED EXEMPLARY GROWTH EXPECTED GROWTH NO RECOGNITION LOW PERFORMING
1998-99 7 3 1 1 2
1999-00 6 2 2 0 2

Sustaining the progress made by the school after the team leaves remains a challenge for some schools. Reasons why a school may not make it off the low-performing list within a year, or why they return to it at a later time, are as varied as the schools themselves. Low expectations for students; staff and administrative performance; staff turnover; and low morale are some of the reasons why schools may have difficulty sustaining their academic progress. Of the 47 traditional schools receiving help, nine schools were low performing in consecutive years or returned to the low-performing list at a later time.

Leak said that job one in sustaining academic progress is first believing that all students can learn if provided appropriate instruction and adequate time. "The assistance teams are most effective when there is a strong working relationship between the team, the school staff and the central office staff. Add a strong principal, staff who are committed and caring, and resources aligned to support instructional priorities and you have the recipe for continued improvement in academic performance that lasts," she said.

For more information on DPI's State Assistance Teams, please contact Dr. Elsie Leak, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and School Reform Services, DPI, 919.807.3759.

North Carolina's Assistance to Low-Performing and At-Risk Schools

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.