NEWS RELEASES 2015-16 :: SEPTEMBER 2, 2015


North Carolina’s second annual school performance grades were presented to the State Board of Education today showing that 72.2 percent of traditional public schools earned grades of C or better, and 70.4 percent of public charter schools received grades of C or better.

For the 10th consecutive year, North Carolina’s four-year cohort high school graduation rate is up and is now at 85.4 percent.

As required by state legislation, the School Performance Grades are based 80 percent on the school's achievement score and 20 percent on students' academic growth. The only exception to this is if a school meets expected growth but inclusion of the school's growth reduces the school's performance score and grade. In that case, a school may choose to use the School Achievement Score only to determine the performance score and grade. All public schools, including charter schools, receive grades.

This year, for the first time, some schools received a letter grade of A+NG. This new standard reflects schools that earned a school performance grade of A and that also do not have any student achievement gaps that are larger than the largest average gap for the state overall. The US Department of Education required that North Carolina’s higher school designation be designed to reflect schools that do not have achievement gaps that are larger than the largest average gap in the state.

“North Carolinians can be pleased that our high school graduation continues to increase and reached a new all-time high of more than 85 percent in 2015,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “Our graduation rate is a bright spot, and I also am pleased that mathematics performance improved across elementary and middle schools.”

State Superintendent Atkinson also expressed concern that schools with high percentages of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds were most likely to receive D or F school performance grades. “We know that students who come from poor circumstances often make significant academic growth each year, but they often begin school behind their more affluent peers and have many obstacles to overcome. Many of our children living in poverty do not have access to preschool education – a well-researched strategy for improving student achievement.”

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey noted that the school performance grades provide a starting point for parents to learn more about school performance. “The letter grades give an overview of academic performance,” Cobey said, “and provide a springboard for parents to learn more about the specifics of particular schools’ performance in reading, math and science. I encourage parents to review the grades, visit the school and ask questions about student performance and opportunities for improvement.”

When schools with a growth status are viewed by their grades served, 77.7 percent of elementary schools met or exceeded academic growth goals; 69 percent of middle schools met or exceeded academic growth goals; and 68.4 percent of high schools met or exceeded academic growth goals.

Student grade-level proficiency or above in reading (grades 3-8) remained at 56.3 percent in 2014-15 and moved up to 52.2 percent in mathematics (grades 3-8). In science, grade level proficiency moved up in grade 5 to 64.6 percent and in grade 8 to 72.6 percent. The grade-level proficiency or better reflects students who were at Achievement Levels 3, 4 and 5 on end-of-grade tests. Level 3 Achievement is considered grade level proficient. Levels 4 and 5 reflect performance that is considered on track to be college and career ready by high school graduation.

On the three high school end-of-course tests, 53.6 percent of Biology students scored at Achievement Levels 3, 4 or 5. In English II, 59.6 percent of students were grade-level proficient or better. In Math I, 59.8 percent of students were grade-level proficient. These performance figures are similar or slightly lower than performance in 2013-14.

Elementary and middle schools' School Performance Grades are based only on test scores. These include end-of-grade reading and mathematics tests at the 3-8 grade levels; an end-of-grade science test at grades 5 and 8, and if applicable, end-of-course tests in Math I and Biology.

High schools have more accountability measures included in their School Performance Grade calculations than elementary and middle schools have. High schools also are evaluated based on the percentage of 11th graders who meet the UNC System minimum admission requirement of a composite score of 17 on The ACT college readiness exam. In 2014-15, 59.7 percent of juniors met the minimum 17 score. Other high school measurements include ACT WorkKeys (percentage of graduates who are Career and Technical Education concentrators who earn a Silver Certificate or higher) and the percentage of students passing Math III. In 2014-15, 72.2 percent of qualifying students met the WorkKeys benchmark (an improvement over the previous year), and more than 95 percent of students passed Math III (same as previous year).

Of the state's 2,586 public schools and public charter schools, 2,446 received School Performance Grades. The 140 schools not included in the report may not have any tested grades or may have a transient or very small student population. Typically these schools are K-2 schools, special education schools, alternative schools and hospital schools. Following is the overall distribution of the grades for both public school and public charter schools.


A+NG NA NA 69 2.8%
A 132 5.4% 89 3.6%
B 582 24.0% 584 23.9%
C 1,003 41.4% 1,022 41.8%
D 561 23.1% 536 21.9%
F 146 6.0% 146 6.0%
Total 2,424   2,446  

Due to rounding, the percent of schools may not total 100%.

School grades are based on a 15-point scale.

For schools receiving an F letter grade, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will evaluate its district and school transformation resources and identify schools where it may provide district assistance to help those schools improve. The department has 20 years of experience in successfully assisting low-performing schools to build leadership and teaching capacity for improvement.

Although this is the second year of School Performance Grades, North Carolina has had school-based accountability since 1996. The end-of-grade tests have been given to elementary and middle school students since 1993. These scores reflect the third year of the READY accountability model with its strong focus on career and college readiness and high standards.

2014-15 School Performance Grade, School Performance Score and Growth Status by District/School

2014-15 School Performance Grades Executive Summary

READY Accountability Background Brief

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.