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NEWS RELEASES 2006-07 :: AUGUST 17, 2006


North Carolina students in fourth and 10th grades improved their performance on the state's writing assessment in 2005-06, according to a preliminary report released today by the NC Department of Public Instruction. Performance for seventh graders decreased slightly.

Public school students in North Carolina are assessed in writing at grades four, seven and 10. In order to be considered proficient, students must earn a minimum score of 12 on a scale that ranges from a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 20. Scores on the writing assessment are reported according to the following achievement levels: Level I, 4-7; Level II, 8-11; Level III, 12-16; and Level IV, 17-20.

Fourth grade results showed that 50 percent of students scored proficient in 2005-06, an improvement from 2004-05 when 49.3 percent scored at this level. In the 2002-03 school year, the first year the revised scoring model, scale, and writing standards were implemented, 38.6 percent of the students scored proficient.

For seventh graders, a total of 46.2 percent scored proficient in writing, down slightly from 2004-05 when the proficient rate was 46.7 percent. In 2002-03, 40.9 percent of the students scored proficient.

At the 10th grade level, 53.2 percent of students scored proficient, an increase from the 2004-05 year when 47.8 percent scored at this level. In 2002-03, 39.9 percent of the students scored proficient.

Writing results are included in the state's ABCs accountability model's performance composite for schools. The performance composite shows the percentage of student test scores that are at proficient or better. Writing scores have not been included in the performance composite for several years, but are included again for the 2005-06 year.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said that she was encouraged by the trendline of writing performance, but that more work is needed in this area. "North Carolina students are improving, but we still have a long way to go in terms of producing strong writers. Writing is a fundamental skill that all students need," she said.

Fourth graders were asked to write an imaginative narrative response to finding an egg under their beds. A total of 101,192 fourth graders wrote a narrative response. Of these responses, 7.8 percent received scores at Achievement Level I, 42.2 percent at Level II, 48.6 percent at Level III and fewer than 5 percent scored at Level IV.

Seventh graders were asked to respond with an argumentative evaluation response to the following prompt: A school committee is creating a mural (wall painting) that will feature students' favorite book or movie characters. Only a limited number of characters can be included. Each student has been asked to nominate a character from a book or a movie. Select a character to be featured as part of the mural and write a letter to the school committee justifying your selection. A total of 104,716 responded to the prompt. Of these responses, 9.2 percent received scores at Achievement Level I, 44.6 percent at Level II, 46 percent at Level III and fewer than 5 percent scored at Level IV.

Tenth graders were asked to write an informational (cause and effect) response to the following prompt:
Write a letter to your local school board explaining the effects of a "no-pass, no-play" policy on the students in your school. You may use the following information, your own experience, observations and/or readings.

"No-pass, no-play," of course, is the popular slogan for a policy that requires students to maintain passing grades in their core academic subjects to be eligible to participate in a school's extracurricular activities. The slogan lumps together student athletes and all other students who represent the school in interschool competitions, from members of the drill team and pep squad to contestants in drama and chess…

Recent public debate about the "no-pass, no-play" policy, especially in the legislature and the media, proceeded without the reliable evidence about the effect of the policy on individual students, in individual schools, and in schools across the state…
Source: O.L. Davis Jr., Editor, Journal of Curriculum and Supervision

In 1984, "Texas became the first state to impose academic eligibility requirements to participate in athletics. Since then nearly thirty states have established similar academic minimums, with many expanding the scope to include student participation in all extracurricular activities."
Source: National Association of State Boards of Education

"Educational decision makers must look at the consequences of denying students the right to participate to get them to work harder in the classroom… These kinds of exclusionary policies may well damage overall achievement and work against those students who could benefit most directly from involvement."
Source: John Holloway, "extracurricular Activities: The Path to Academic Success?"

A total of 96,918 students participated in the 10th grade assessment. Of these responses, 13.1 percent received scores at Achievement Level I, 33.7 percent at Level II and 51.9 percent at Level III; Level IV fewer than 5 percent.

For more information, please contact the Department of Public Instruction's Communications division, 919.807.3450.

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.