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NC School Report Cards To Be Released in February, Grading Changes Coming to High Schools Next Year

Jan. 28, 2015. Editor’s Note: The following two articles were recently published in Watauga County School’s seasonal newsletter, The Learning Leader, which can be viewed here.

NC School Report Cards, School Performance Grades to be Released in February

School Report Cards and the School Performance Grades for 2013-14 will both be released by the State Board of Education on Feb. 5.

The School Performance Grades, which are new this year, are on an A- F scale based on a formula that gives 80 percent of weight to student achievement and 20 percent to students’ academic growth during the year.

Although the state’s performance grade formula is heavily tilted toward proficiency, most educators believe that student academic growth is a better measure of school quality.

The reason is that students enter school in different starting places based mostly on access to resources outside of school. Even an average school might achieve high proficiency rates if it has a large proportion of students with lots of advantages at home and in their community.

On the other hand, an excellent school with lots of high-need students might help those students achieve much more academic progress, yet still not achieve a high proficiency rate on state tests. In these circumstances, a formula heavily weighted toward proficiency is likely to result in a higher grade for the average school than for the excellent school.

For K-8 schools, the test results used for school grades will include the End-of-Grade (EOG) reading and mathematics tests for grades 3-8, the EOG science tests for grades 5 and 8, and the End-of-Course (EOC) Math I test for those students who take Math I in middle school. For high schools, the factors used for school grades will include EOC test results for Math I, Biology, and English II; the graduation rate; the percentage of students who complete Math III or higher level math courses; 11th grade ACT test results; and the percentage of students con- centrating in career and technical education who achieve at least a silver certificate credential in their area of concentration.

“The grades are important but it’s also important to keep them in context,” Watauga County Schools Supt. Dr. Scott Elliott. “We can use grades as a starting point for seeing what we are doing well and what needs more attention, just as we would do for a student. However, we should keep in mind that grades are only a partial measure of school success and that some very important factors cannot be captured in one letter or a number.”

A brief PowerPoint presentation explaining School Performance Grades is available on the news and data page of the WCS website.

School Report Cards are an established part of the state’s school accountability system. They provide state test results for all schools and school districts along with data about teacher qualifications, average class size, school safety, and other factors.

After their release by the State Board of Education, the School Report Card for each school will be available on school websites and a printed copy will be provided from school offices on request.

Grading Changes Coming to NC High Schools Next Year

Two significant changes to the grading system will take effect in NC high schools beginning with the 2015- 16 school year. One change affects the quality points awarded for various advanced level courses and the other is a transition to a 10-point scale for determining course grades.

Under the new standards for quality points, students will receive one extra quality point for AP, IB and college courses, including dual enrollment and North Carolina community college transfer courses covered by the Com- prehensive Articulation Agreement. Students will receive .5 extra quality points for honors courses.

The changes in quality points will be implemented starting with the freshman class that enters 9th grade in the 2015-16 school year and will be phased in over four years. The changes will not apply to students already enrolled in high school.

Under the new grading scale, grades of 90-100 will be an “A,” 80-89 will be a “B,” 70-79 will be a “C,” 60-69 will be a “D,” and grades under 60 will be an “F.” This change will take effect for all high school students next year.

The new grading scale will not be applied retroactively to any courses that students have already completed. It also will not apply to any grades for K-8 students.

The change in the grading scale was approved by the State Board of Education to ensure greater consistency in grades across the state and to level the playing field in regard to college admission, scholarships, and other areas where school grades may affect student opportunities.

School districts across the state currently set their own grading scales and students in districts with more stringent standards can be at a disadvantage when their grades are compared to those of students from systems with less stringent standards.