By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The North Carolina Board of Education released its first READY accountability report for the 2012-2103 school year Thursday morning.
Test scores dropped across the state, as well as in Edgecombe County, as anticipated. As Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) Director of Accountability Janet Morris explained, the State Board adopted a new Standard Course of Study, new student assessments and a new school accountability model, all designed to get students career and college ready. The READY accountability model replaced the ABC’s of Public Education, which focused on grade level proficiency.
Overall, Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) met 76 out of 132 (57.6 percent) state accountability targets and 40 out of 62 (64.5 percent) federal Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) targets. North Carolina students met 89 percent of state targets and 95.6 percent of federal AMO targets. More than 61 percent of ECPS students met or exceeded growth expectations.
On one measure of student accountability, overall performance composite, ECPS students earned 21.9 percent, compared to the state’s 44.7 percent performance composite. That rating is the measure of overall students performing proficient (at grade level) or above on End-of-Grade or End-of-Course exams. Scores at individual schools ranged from 11.6 percent to 45.7 percent.
Under the new accountability model, EOG assessments in grades three through eight and science assessments in grades five and eight are counted for academic growth and performance. ECPS students scored highest overall at the third-grade level (26.3 percent) and lowest at the sixth-grade level (16.8 percent).
In 2011-2012, under the ABC’s model, five schools in ECPS met all AMO targets, and student performance composites ranged from 22.7 percent (at the Roberson Center for Educational Achievement, which is no longer in operation) to 92 percent, at the Edgecombe Early College High School.
“North Carolina public school students are now required to meet a higher standard of proficiency,” ECPS Superintendent John Farrelly said. “The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and North Carolina Essential Standards are more challenging and focus on how students can use the information they learn, rather than just memorizing information without understanding the context. While test scores dropped significantly across the state, 76 percent of ECPS teachers who gave the End-of-Grade or End-of-Course exams met or exceeded student growth measures last year.”
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Valerie Bridges also addressed the impact of the new student assessments on performance levels.
“Teachers are adjusting instruction to meet the new standards and students are adjusting to the higher levels of rigor,” she said. “A drop in the test scores does not mean that your child is not learning and progressing, nor does it mean that our teachers are not teaching. It simply means
the expectations have changed.”
Farrelly said the district recognizes the “significant challenges in front of us to meet the new rigorous curricula standards.”
“The new curriculum and assessments demand that we adjust instructional practices to provide more problem solving learning experiences for students. Despite the anticipated drop in overall scores, I am confident that we will continue to raise the bar for both teacher and student performance,” he said.
High schools’ READY accountability data also was released, and that date includes four components -- graduation rates, math course rigor, ACT (a college-preparatory exam) composite and ACT WorkKeys scores.
For the 2012-2013 year, ECPS students fared best in graduation rates, with a four-year cohort graduation rate (students graduating on time) of 77.4 percent, just four points below the state rate of 82.5 percent. The county’s five-year graduation rate is 81.7 percent, compared to the state rate of 83.1 percent.
On other high-school accountability measures, ECPS students’ ACT composite was 31.9 compared to the state rate of 58.5, math course rigor (percentage of students earning credit in Math III) was 79.9 percent, compared to the state rate of 95 percent, and percentage of Career and Technical Education graduates earning a Silver score or better on the WorkKeys assessment was 47.1 percent, compared to the state rate of 67.3 percent.