KCS: Proficiency rates drop, but schools exceed growth on new tests

  • Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 2:04 p.m.

KANNAPOLIS — Final test results for the 2012-2013 school year show that while proficiency rates dropped, Kannapolis City Schools exceeded academic growth in reading and math, the school system said in a news release.

The district also made a high level of its academic targets called Annual Measurable Objectives, the news release said.

Districtwide, 37 percent of students scored proficient in both reading and math on end of grade tests.

The 2012-13 school years was considered a “transitional year” with new, more rigorous curriculum and testing standards put in place. The new standards have resulted in proficiency rates dropping 30 percent to 40 percent for school districts across North Carolina.

In addition to making tests harder, the state is requiring students to have more correct answers in order to be considered proficient. The lower proficiency rates don’t mean students learned less, education officials stress, and it’s possible for students to have made academic growth but not achieved proficiency on the tests.

After a year of the new standards being in place, students and teachers will adjust to them, and proficiency levels will rise, expected to eventually climb to the ranges they were before the new standards were put in place, the school system said.

To help parents understand the new standards, Kannapolis City Schools has sent letters home with students, added information to its website, made automated phone calls to parents, and discussed the changes at parent-teacher conferences.

“We want parents to understand the changes,” district Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain said in the news release. “We also want them to know that these new standards will benefit their children. The new curriculum does a much better job of getting children to think for themselves, solve problems, create, and collaborate. All these things will get them ready for college and careers and serve them well in life.”

Because of the changes, the results can’t be compared to those in previous years, and they won’t affect students’ academic progress. The results will be used as a baseline for the future.

Under the new system, North Carolina schools are also rated using a standard called Annual Measurable Objectives. They set proficiency levels that all students must meet. Schools are required to have every subgroup to meet designated proficiency targets in order to reach their objectives.

At the high school level, schools must meet an overall graduation rate as well as have every subgroup reach designated graduation rate benchmarks. A.L. Brown was above the state average in overall graduation rate, and it exceeded the state average in nearly every subgroup category, the school system said.

Proficiency rates for individual schools are shown as a performance composite that reflects the percentage of students who scored proficient in both reading and math on end of grade tests.

Results released today show Kannapolis schools are surpassing their predicted achievement and the growth of similar schools in North Carolina, the news release said.

“I am very proud of our staff for the excellent work they are doing with our students,” Cain said. “Our subgroups are making gains, and our graduation rate continues to rise and stay above the state average. I am also pleased that we are meeting and exceeding growth across the district. However, it is important for us to improve our proficiency rates. I know we will do that. We are focused on providing strong literacy instruction in the early grades, and we are expanding our STEM program with more courses at more grade levels. With our outstanding leaders and staff, I am confident that we will have a high level of success.”

Here are the results by school (percent proficient represents the performance composite, students who scored proficient in both reading and math):

• Forest Park Elementary, 51.4 percent proficient; met 100 percent of annual measurable objectives

• Fred L. Wilson Elementary, 35.9 percent proficient; met 84.2 percent of annual measurable objectives

• Jackson Park Elementary, 47.9 percent proficient; met 100 percent of annual measurable objectives

• Shady Brook Elementary, 39.9 percent proficient; met 100 percent of annual measurable objectives

• Woodrow Wilson Elementary, 39.2 percent proficient; met 95.2 percent of annual measurable objectives

• Kannapolis Intermediate, 29.8 percent proficient; met 73.6 percent of state annual measurable objectives, 69.7 percent of federal

• Kannapolis Middle, 39.9 percent proficient; met 88.7 percent of state annual measurable objectives, 81.8 percent of federal

• A.L. Brown High, 37 percent proficient; met 76.6 percent of state annual measurable objectives, 76.1 percent of federal

More information about the new accountability standards is available on the Kannapolis City Schools website at www.kcs.k12.nc.us.

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