Watauga Schools Outperform Statewide Averages on School Performance Measures

Published Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 10:25 am

WCSThe Watauga County Schools have again exceeded statewide averages on the annual school performance measures used to assess public schools in NC.

The 2014-15 results released today by the State Board of Education show that the WCS system outperformed the state as a whole by a significant margin in reading, math, and science in the K-8 schools, and in English II, Biology, the ACT test, and other assessments at the high school level.

Most of the data in the report is based on state tests of school performance in terms of academic proficiency and growth. Proficiency is defined as the percentage of students meeting grade level standards. Growth is a measure of how much academic progress students make during the school year. For K-8 schools, results are based on End-of-Grade (EOG) tests for reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, science tests in grades 5 and 8, and a Math I End-of-Course (EOC) test for students taking Math I in middle school.

At high schools, proficiency and growth are measured mostly through EOC tests in English II, Biology, and Math I. Additional measures, including the graduation rate, ACT test results for 11th graders, and WorkKeys for students with a concentration in career and technical education are also used to assess high schools.

On the reading test for grades 3-8, 71.1 percent of WCS students achieved proficiency, well above the statewide figure of 56.3 percent. On the mathematics test for grades 3-8, 65.4 percent of WCS students demonstrated proficiency compared to 52.2 percent statewide. In science, 74.7 percent of WCS 5th graders and 80.9 percent of 8th graders achieved proficiency versus the statewide rates of 64.6 percent for 5th grade and 72.6 percent for 8th grade.

The proportion of tested students achieving proficiency on the English II test was 76.6 percent in WCS versus 59.6 percent statewide. In Math I, proficiency rates were 63.6 percent in WCS and 59.8 percent statewide. For Biology, 70.4 percent of WCS test results demonstrated proficiency compared to 53.6 percent statewide.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott commented that “The positive results for our schools reflect the deep commitment and hard work of our students, teachers, and other school personnel. They are also a tribute to the exceptional support we receive from our families, our county commissioners, and the many businesses and community organizations that donate time and funding to our schools. I am grateful for the wonderful things that are happening in this district and for our community’s shared commitment to supporting a great public school system for our students.”

While praising school system personnel and other stakeholders for their contributions to school success, Elliott added that continued progress is essential. “We are well ahead of most other school districts in serving our students but much work remains to be done. We will use this data and every resource available to help our students achieve still greater success so that every young person in our schools reaches his or her full potential.”

In addition to exceeding statewide performance on student proficiency measures, the Watauga County Schools also achieved good results in students’ academic growth. Growth targets were met at all the district’s K-8 schools, and growth at Bethel and Green Valley significantly exceeded expectations. Statewide, 72.3 percent of schools met or exceeded expected growth compared to 89 percent of schools in the WCS system.

Additional encouraging news included a record high four year graduation rate of 87.9 percent at Watauga High School and a five year graduation rate of 90.9 percent, also a record. The statewide four year graduation rate hit an all-time high of 85.4 percent.

Watauga High School students substantially outperformed state averages on the ACT test administered to high school juniors and on the WorkKeys test taken by graduates with a concentration in career and technical education. On the ACT test, 72.8 percent of Watauga High School students met state standards compared to 59.7 percent of students statewide. Just over 86 percent of Watauga High School graduates taking the WorkKeys assessment met proficiency standards, well above the 72.2 percent statewide rate.

The accountability data released by the State Board of Education today includes School Performance Grades, an A-F letter grading system for schools first used for the 2013-14 school year. School Performance Grades are based on a formula that gives 80 percent of weight to student achievement and 20 percent to students’ academic growth, although most educators agree that growth is a better measure of school performance. Under the formula used by the state, the grades received by schools in the WCS system were all B’s and C’s.

For K-8 schools, School Performance Grades are based on the reading and mathematics tests for grades 3-8, the science tests for grades 5 and 8, and the Math I test for students who take Math I in middle school. For high schools, the factors used include test results for Math I, Biology, and English II; the graduation rate; the percentage of students completing Math III or higher level math courses; 11th grade ACT test results; and the percentage of students concentrating in career and technical education who achieve at least a silver certificate credential in their area of concentration.

State test data for all schools and school districts in NC is available online from the NC Department of Public Instruction at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting. A link to this site is available on the news and data page of the Watauga County Schools website.

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