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School class size, technology on par with state

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury School System’s class sizes and access to technology are on par with the statewide average, but student achievement lags behind.
That’s according to the North Carolina School Report Cards for 2010-11, released by the State Department of Public Instruction on Thursday.
The district has kept its class sizes equivalent to the state average despite budgetary concerns.
School board Chairman Dr. Jim Emerson said the system has worked to maintain class sizes by freezing administrative positions.
But that might not be the case next school year.
“We are dreading this spring,” Emerson said. “The loss of the federal (Education Jobs Fund) dollars and stimulus money is going to hurt us.”
The district had a $2,143 per student local allocation last school year, which is $241 more than the state average. But the system received $83 less from the state and $55 less in federal dollars per student than the average district across the state.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said in her welcome letter attached to the report that the district has sought other means of financing to overcome shortfalls.
“Even though public education is experiencing the most devastating of financial times with continual budget cuts, we moved forward to seek and to acquire grants that help to fill the supportive gaps to assure our students are receiving the very best that we can give them particularly in the areas of science, math and technology,” she wrote.
Fewer Rowan students in third through eighth grades were proficient in reading and math than the state average.
About 63 percent of Rowan students scored at or above grade level. That number is more than 70 percent statewide. Eighty-two percent of the state’s students were proficient in math, while 75 percent of the local district’s students scored above average. (See chart on 2A for more details).
Emerson said parents looking at the numbers shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on test data.
“There are so many variables you have to take into consideration,” he said. “I would say take a look at their child’s performance and be concerned about that.”
Ninety-nine percent of classrooms in Rowan County are connected to the Internet.
The school system has 1.69 students per instructional computer, better than the statewide average of 2.14.
“We want to be technologically out front,” Emerson said. “We don’t want student performance to suffer because lack of these things. So if we have an extra dollar to put in instructional materials, technology is our primary focus.”
District Spokeswoman Rita Foil said parents will receive a packet with individual schools’ information Nov. 3. It will also include the first year accomplishments of the District Improvement plan.
Grissom will be sending out a phone message to parents that day to let them know the information is coming, Foil said.
Report cards for individual schools in all of the state’s 115 school district’s are available online at ncreportcard. org and they provide information about school size, safety, teacher and principal qualifications and turnover rates.
Percentage of students’ End-of-Grade test scores at or above grade level
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math
District 62 79 65 77 64 75 70 73 60 71 61 75
State 68 82 72 84 72 82 75 81 68 82 70 85
Percentage of students’ End-of-Course test scores at or above grade level
English I Algebra I Algebra II Biology Physical Science Civics/Econ U.S. History
District 78 66 80 79 71 79 80
State 81 77 82 80 76 80 82
Note: Figures from the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s N.C School Report Card
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/ Sarah. SalisburyPost

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