The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 15, 2013

NECP reviews first year End-of-Grade scores


HARRISBURG, Pa. — North East Carolina Preparatory School has reviewed the End-of-Grade test results for the 2012-2013 school year, its first year in operation. The public charter school had 403 students in its first year, and 289 students in grades three through eight took the test.

NECP met 61.0 percent of federal targets and 59.3 percent of state targets. The school’s overall composite proficiency was 22.7 percent. The state average overall composite was 44.7 percent, with students meeting 95.6 percent of federal targets and 89 percent of state targets.

NECP students scored the highest in fourth grade math (35 percent proficiency) and sixth grade reading (31.1 percent) and the lowest in eighth grade math (7.7 percent).

The End-of-Grade test changed last school year, and because of that change, low scores do not mean the students are not making progress, said Taro Knight, NECP’s director of community relations/ middle school/ athletics.

“We’re pleased, because this is a benchmark. It shows us where we are as it relates to this test,” Knight said. “This test is only one indicator. We won’t use these scores as anything other than one indicator of a student’s learning.”

NECP’s Director of Communications Diane LeFiles said the school has combined students from multiple school districts and those districts have “different philosophies, different approaches to learning.”

“Students here are learning different ways to learn as we use the Multiple Intelligences approaches and the development of critical thinking skills,” LeFiles said.

In the 2012-2013 school year, 81 percent of NECP students were residents of Edgecombe County, nine percent of students were from Halifax County and about 10 percent were from other surrounding counties. Edgecombe County Public Schools scored a 21.9 percent overall composite on the 2012-2013 EOG’s, while Halifax County students scored 17.1 percent.

Along with changing the EOG’s, North Carolina also changed its curriculum last school year, to the Common Core. NECP teaches a variation of the Common Core – the Common Core Knowledge Sequence. Initial student assessments at the beginning of the school year indicated that students needed instruction on “the basics,” and because of that, instructors weren’t able to delve deeply into the Common Core curriculum, Knight said.

“We wanted to go back to the very beginning and build a foundation,” he said. “What teachers say is that they can see improvement in the basic skills of the students. As long as our teachers say they’re making progress, we’re okay with it.”

LeFiles said NECP places a strong emphasis on reading. She said the school has three reading specialists, reading labs, and has acquired specialized reading materials through grant funding. The school also has a “Battle of the Books” team, which LeFiles said gets the students “excited about reading” through competition.

Next week, LeFiles said students in grades one through nine would take a Terra Nova test, a new version of the California Achievement Test. That test will allow teachers to work with students on skills in need of improvement.

“We’re trying to look at the different dimensions of a student’s academic performance and abilities,” LeFiles said.

Overall, Knight said the NECP administration is pleased with student learning and the program that’s in place at the school.

“What we expect and what we’re seeing happen is that these students are becoming well-rounded learners,” Knight said.