NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: AUGUST 5, 2010


North Carolina public schools improved their performance in 2009-10 with approximately 88 percent of schools meeting their academic growth goals, and fewer schools classified as low performing, according to the ABCs of Public Education accountability report approved by the State Board of Education at its August meeting today.

Nearly 40 percent of North Carolina's public schools are in the top three tiers of performance. Results show that 200 schools, or 8 percent, of the state's public schools are designated as Honor Schools of Excellence - the highest category of recognition. Fifteen schools, or .6 percent, are Schools of Excellence. A total of 716 schools - 28.8 percent - are classified as Schools of Distinction. Schools of Distinction have 80 percent or more of their test scores at or above grade level on state end-of-grade and end-of-course tests and showed student academic growth that was at the expected level or greater. Schools of Excellence and Honor Schools of Excellence have 90 percent or more of their test scores at or above grade level and showed at least expected growth. Schools in the Honor Schools of Excellence category also met federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets, a very rigorous standard.

In the prior year, 2008-09, about one-fourth of the state's public schools were classified in the top three tiers of performance. Last year's results showed that 117 schools, or 4.7 percent, earned the state's top designation - Honor Schools of Excellence. Nine schools, or .4 percent, were Schools of Excellence; and 502 schools, or 20.3 percent, were Schools of Distinction.

"Today's ABCs report shows that our school leaders and teachers are staying focused on teaching and learning at high levels, even as they face many challenges brought on by the state's economic situation," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "It is a credit to the skills and professionalism of North Carolina's teachers that school performance improved."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison congratulated the school districts for their performance. "I am pleased that more of our schools have moved into the top tiers of the ABCs performance categories. Local school district leaders have made very practical decisions during tight budget times to continue supporting and improving teaching and learning in their schools, and students benefit the most."

In 2009-10, for the first time, students who did not pass end-of-course tests were retested and their retest results were included in the ABCs performance composites and in federal AYP calculations. All students who score Achievement Level II on the first administration of the EOC assessments were retested, and parents of students who score Achievement Level I on the first administration were allowed to request retesting for their students. The use of retest results means that school districts can no longer use the standard error of measurement to exclude students from retesting. Students in 3-8 were allowed to use retest results for the first time in 2008-09. Including the retest results for the first time in high schools provided a one-time boost (median = 5.8%) to results, analogous to the boost (median = 8.9%) that elementary and middle schools received during their first year of retesting in 2008-09. Retest results were not included in the ABCs growth calculations. State education officials need several years' worth of performance data that includes retest results before retesting can be incorporated into academic growth measures.

Including retest results in this year's ABCs results boosted the percentage of students counted as proficient on end-of-course tests.

Test Median Boost
Algebra I 5.1%
Algebra II 7.7%
Biology 7.0%
Civics & Economics 6.5%
English I 5.4%
Geometry 6.4%
Physical Science 8.3%
U.S. History 6.3%

On the measure of academic growth, the percentage of schools earning High Growth improved from 39.5 percent to 52.4 percent. The percent of schools earning Expected Growth decreased from 41.5 percent to 35.5 percent. Overall, the percentage of schools meeting or exceeding their academic growth goals increased to 87.9 percent - up from 81 percent last year. Growth is calculated by tracking individual students' academic performance in the current school year compared to the students' performance in the prior two school years.

Under the ABCs model, schools are given specific designations based on their performance. The 2009-10 numbers for each category are as follows:

Honor Schools of Excellence 200 schools 8.0 percent
Schools of Excellence 15 schools 0.6 percent
Schools of Distinction 716 schools 28.8 percent
Schools of Progress 989 schools 39.7 percent
No Recognition Schools 213 schools 8.6 percent
Priority Schools 261 schools 10.5 percent
Low-Performing Schools 16 schools 0.6 percent

The ABCs report also includes information about Adequate Yearly Progress, the federal measure of school progress that is required under No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The AYP measure requires schools to meet specific performance targets for each subgroup of students. The model is an all-or-nothing proposition; missing one target means the school does not make Adequate Yearly Progress. In North Carolina, 57.8 percent of schools made AYP, down from 71 percent in 2009. Overall, North Carolina schools had a total of 42,457 AYP targets, and 95.8 percent of these were met. About 15 percent of North Carolina schools missed AYP by only one target. More information about the federal requirements, AYP targets and other details are available at

The ABCs report is based on several measures of performance. These include reading and mathematics end-of-grade tests in grades three through eight; science end-of-grade tests in grades five and eight; and end-of-course tests in Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, Civics and Economics, English I, Geometry, Physical Science, and US History. Other measures include the dropout rate, completion of certain courses of study and student performance on alternate assessments for certain students with disabilities.

Complete details of how these measures are included in the ABCs model, definitions of school designations and other information is available in the ABCs/AYP 2010 Accountability Report Background Packet at

This is the 14th year of North Carolina's ABCs report, and for the second consecutive year the state's budget situation has meant that funding is unavailable for ABCs incentive awards for qualifying educators.

A total of 2,490 public schools are included in the ABCs of Public Education. Complete results for all of these schools may be viewed online at This online resource also provides the opportunity to do custom searches for particular types of schools and levels of performance. For more information, please contact NCDPI'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 160 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.