Rowan-Salisbury test scores released

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — The 2017-18 testing season was a rocky one for Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Few district schools managed to improve their school performance grade, and several showed negative growth outcomes.

School performance grades are a state ranking system which relies on test scores and, to a lesser extent, improvement or growth of students. According to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the final grade is 80 percent test scores and 20 percent growth or improvement.

Growth expectations are determined by the state’s Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS), which examines the impact of teachers, schools and districts on the learning of their students in specific courses, grades and subjects.

The majority of district schools stayed the course with a C grade (15) or D grade (9). However, more schools fell to a school performance grade of F — the lowest score — than last year. West Rowan Middle School and North Rowan Middle School both received an F grade, a step down from their Ds during the 2016-17 testing season. North Rowan Elementary has received an F grade for the past 5 years. Southeast Middle School was the only other school to drop its letter grade, from a C to a D.

Despite this, Rowan-Salisbury Schools managed to keep its head above water and avoid being labeled as a low-performing district for the third year in a row. To be named a low-performing district, the majority of schools must be low performing — low-performing schools are those that receive a School Performance Grade of D or F and a school accountability growth score of met expected growth or did not met expected growth. To avoid a low-performing designation, schools must earn a School Performance Grade of C or better or exceed growth. Only 14 of the district’s 35 schools are low performing.

But the news isn’t all bad — several schools managed to improve their rating, and Rowan County Early College maintains its position as the district’s sole school with an A rating. Other schools that improved their school performance grade include: China Grove Elementary, Landis Elementary and Salisbury High School.

To see whether a school improved its School Performance Grade, it is important to look at its School Performance Grade Score — a numerical representation of the grade. While many schools did not change their letter grades, their scores rose or fell. For example, Bostian Elementary maintained its B letter grade during the 2016-17 testing season, but managed to change its score from a 71 to a 76.

While most schools stayed within a point or two of last year’s scores, many saw drastic drops or increases. Shive Elementary School saw its score drop nearly 10 points — from a 65 to a 56. Granite Quarry Elementary School’s score also fell, from a 66 to a 58, as did Koontz Elementary (29 to 25) and China Grove Middle School (60 to 55). North Rowan Elementary, however, had the biggest gap — from a 47 in 2016-17 to a 33 in 2017-18. Southeast Middle also experienced a drastic drop — from 52 to 45.

Isenberg saw its score rise from a 44 to a 49; Salisbury High School improved its score from a 52 to a 57; and West Rowan High School had the highest growth increase, pushing its score from a 60 to a 69.

There’s good news outside of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, too. Kannapolis City Schools this year pulled itself up by its bootstraps and, for the first time in three years, will not be a low performing district. While four of the district’s eight schools received a D grade, one of them exceeded growth, therefore escaping a low perfoming designation. Only one other school exceeded growth. Kannapolis City Schools had no A, B or F schools.

Gray Stone Day School, located in Misenheimer, received a B rating and a school performance grade of 74. The school did not meet growth expectations.

N.C. Connections Academy, a local virtual charter school, received a D rating, a school performance grade of 52 and did not meet growth expectations.

Kannapolis Charter Academy improved its school performance grade in 2016-17 from a D to a C. The school had a performance grade score of 61 and exceeded growth expectations.

This year is the first that states have had to follow guidelines instated by the Every Student Succeeds Act. The statute allows districts to further break down and measure student subgroups, including ethnicity and socioeconomic status. These results are included in the test score release today presented to the State Board of Education.

The statute also mandated that the State of North Carolina create and follow long-term goals, where progress can be measured annually. The state’s goals include: Reading and mathematics assessments in grades three through eight, reading assessments in grade 10, mathematics assessments in grade 11, a four-year cohort graduation rate and English learner progress.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education received the district’s scores at 1 p.m. today at the Wallace Educational Forum board room, 500 N. Main St.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.