RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hundreds of other North Carolina public schools are now rated as underperforming, even as 2021-22 student test scores have improved overall from the previous year marred by COVID-19 educational restrictions, score results released Thursday show .
Data from the Department of Public Instruction indicates that 51% of students passed state exams in the last school year, up from a rate of more than 45% in the 2020-21 school year, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. The percentages are still below the nearly 59% proficiency rate for 2018-19, the last full school year before the pandemic. Testing was scrapped in spring 2020 as schools were closed for in-person learning.
Previous DPI analysis found that some students were months or even more than a year behind in math and reading at the end of the 2020-21 school year due to pandemic-related learning losses.
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“Recovery is underway, but it’s going to take time,” Tammy Howard, director of the DPI Accountability Office, said at a State Board of Education meeting where the results were discussed.
The results also rated the schools on an AF grade scale for the first time since the 2018-19 school year. Grades are a combination of passing rates on exams and exceeding growth expectations on those tests. Thirty-four percent of schools, or 864 of them, now meet the definition of low-performing status, which means having D or F grades and not exceeding growth expectations. There were 488 underperforming schools on the list for 2018-19.
Schools on the list for two of the last three test years are eligible for the “Restart” program, which gives the school the opportunity to modify its operations to help improve academic performance, WRAL-TV reported. These schools could also access more funds.
Critics of the grading system say it focuses heavily on exam pass rates and could single out very poor schools, which on average receive lower performance grades than wealthy schools.
“I share the same concerns as many educators, parents and others who have worried for years about grade fairness,” Public Schools Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a news release. The legislator should agree to modify the performance ratings.
The percentage of schools with A and B grades last year was 23%, with 42% of schools achieving D and F grades.
The DPI also announced that the state’s four-year high school graduation rate increased from 86.9% in the 2020-21 school year to 86.2% last year. . The rate remains well above the 68% rate when the state reported one for the class of 2006.
The State Board of Education also agreed Thursday to spend $4.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to ensure that hundreds of principals avoid a potentially large reduction in their salary share based on student performance.
State law otherwise changing how primary performance pay is calculated would affect salaries beginning in January. The additional funds would cover one year.
For additional copyright information, see the distributor of this article, WRAL-TV.