School grades show improvement across district
Bobby Burns and Amber Revels-Stocks
Monday, September 9, 2019
The majority of Pitt County’s schools improved their scores in North Carolina’s accountability measures over last year with seven earning higher letter grades, according to data released by the state Wednesday.
Ayden Middle School, Creekside Elementary School, E.B. Aycock Middle School, Elmhurst Elementary School, Farmville Middle, Pactolus School and Wellcome Middle School all improved from a D grade to a C grade in the state’s annual School Performance Grade results. Hope Middle School improved from a B grade to an A.
The results were released by the State Board of Education along with the four-year cohort graduation rate for the class of 2019. Pitt County Schools officials declined to comment on the reports last week.
“Pitt County Schools has been focused on hurricane preparation and recovery this past week,” a statement released Thursday said. “We will be holding a press conference early this upcoming week to speak in depth regarding school performance grades recently released by the state.”
The grades are based on student performance on end-of-grade testing and analysis conducted by DPI. Thirty-seven Pitt County schools and a program for patients at Vidant Medical Center were graded, although grades at the Vidant program and two primary schools are not included for comparison here. Looking strictly at letter grades, the school system improved overall.
Three schools earned A grades this year compared to one last year. In addition to Hope Middle, the Early College High School at Pitt Community College earned an A for the fourth year, and the Innovation Early College High School at East Carolina University earned an A grade for its first year of classes.
The system went from six B grades to five due to the improvement at Hope. Twenty schools received C grades, up from 14 last year. Seven earned D grades, down from 13. One school, South Greenville Elementary, scored an F grade.
The grades reflect a composite of proficiency scores — the number of students testing at or above grade level — and growth, which is based on a formula that measures improvement on testing from one year to the next. Proficiency accounts for 80 percent of the composite score and growth accounts for 20 percent.
Composite scores of 85-100 receive and A grade, 70-84 a B, 55-69 a C, 40-54 a D, and 0-39 an F.
Seventeen schools improved their composite scores from last year but not enough to improve their letter grades, the data shows. A.G. Cox Middle School jumped from 58 to 68, for instance, just two points shy of a B grade. Coupled with the seven schools that earned higher letter grades, 24 schools improved their rating over last year.
Nine schools scored lower composite grades but maintained their letter grade, and one school’s score did not change from last year.
Last year, five schools dropped a letter grade. Only four county schools this year did not meet growth expectations.
According to the data, less than half of the students scored at or above grade level on testing at schools that earned a D grade: Belvoir Elementary, C.M. Eppes Middle School, Falkland Elementary, Grifton School, Lakeforest Elementary, Northwest Elementary and Wahl-Coates Elementary. Twenty-five percent of students performed at grade level or higher at South Greenville, the only county’s only F-grade school.
Between 69 percent and 81 percent of students scored in proficient levels at the five county schools that earned a B grade: Wintergreen Intermediate School, W.H. Robinson Middle School, Ridgewood Elementary School, D.H. Conley High School and Chicod School.
The assessments also reported the graduation rate for the four-year cohort that graduated in May from each of the county’s high schools. The rate was 88.3 at Ayden-Grifton, 91 at D.H. Conley, 84 at Farmville Central, 80.7 at J.H. Rose, 71 at North Pitt and 82 at South Central. Each of the schools earned a C letter grade in the assessment except for Conley.
Statewide, the four-year rate, tracking students who entered ninth grade in 2015, shows that 86.5 percent of the cohort graduated, according to a news release from the Department of Public Instruction.
Approximately three quarters of the state’s 2,523 public schools met or exceeded their expectations for student progress. In addition, the percentage of schools earning As and Bs increased to 37.3 percent from 35.6 percent during the 2017-18 school year.
State Superintendent of Schools Mark Johnson said scores statewide reflected effort of teachers and students and changes at the state level.
“Teachers across the state are working hard to ensure that students learn and achieve,” he said in the news release. “We are making changes in Raleigh to help our students and teachers — with less time spent on testing and more time for instruction, getting money out of Raleigh and into classrooms where it belongs and a regional support system better tailored to support schools.”