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Federal requirements provide a closer look at local test scores

SALISBURY — New federal requirements have provided school districts with new test score data that was released Wednesday.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Every Student Succeeds Act requires school districts and the state to report student performance by subgroups of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and other factors.

The law uses accountability measures to determine whether individual schools are meeting growth in reading and mathematics. These measurements apply only to elementary and middle schools.

According to the data, 13 Rowan-Salisbury elementary and middle schools did not meet growth expectations in reading and 11 did not meet growth expectations in mathematics. It is possible for a school to meet growth in both categorie, but not meet its overall growth goal.

Nearly all district middle schools failed to meet growth expectations in reading or math. Middle school school performance grades and scores also fell.

China Grove and Corriher-Lipe were the only middle schools in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools district to meet growth measures — both in mathematics.

Academic growth is an indication of the progress that students made over the past year. The standard is roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of growth for a year of instruction. Growth is reported for each school and each subgroup in a school as exceeding expectations, meting expectations, or not meeting expectations as measured by EVAAS, a statistical tool North Carolina uses to measure student growth when common assessments are administered.

EVAAS scores apply to elementary, middle and high school.

Under federal law, low-performing schools — those that receive a school performance grade of D or F and a school accountability growth score of meeting expected growth or not meeting expected growth — must be identified in order to provide additional support.

Low-performing RSS schools include Overtone Elementary, Koontz Elementary, Isenberg Elementary, Hanford Dole Elementary, Hurley Elementary, Knollwood Elementary, Corriher-Lipe Middle, Erwin Middle, Knox Middle, North Rowan Middle, Southeast Middle, West Rowan Middle and North Rowan High School.

Subgroup data paints a grim picture of a large school achievement gap drawn along racial and socioeconomic lines. According to the Department of Public Instruction, only 43.7 percent of Rowan-Salisbury students are grade-level proficient — meaning they scored a 3 or higher on end-of-grade and end-of-course assessments.

However, while 53.7 percent of white students were grade-level proficient, only 23 percent of black students and 33.7 percent of Hispanic students met the same bar. Only 23.4 percent of English language learners were grade-level proficient.

Roughly 76 percent of black students scored a 1 or a 2 on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests, compared to 65 percent of Hispanic students and 46 percent of white students.

Additionally, only 34.3 percent of economically disadvantaged students were grade-level proficient, and only 24.7 of the district’s homeless student population and 32 percent of district children in foster care were grade-level proficient.

Broken down by grade level — elementary and middle schools and high school — those gaps remain, in some cases almost down to the percentage point.

Statewide, 86.3 percent of students graduate within four years of entering ninth grade. In Rowan-Salisbury Schools, the current four-year graduation rate is 84.5 percent — up from roughly 83 percent, last year.

However, there are still gaps among subgroups. While 86 percent of white students graduate within four years, only 82.5 percent of black students and 81.4 percent of Hispanic students achieve the same.

Only 68.8 percent of English language learners graduate within four years.

Considering socioeconomic barriers, only 80.6 percent of economically disadvantaged students; 70 percent of students in foster care; and only 65.3 percent of homeless students graduate within four years.

While most Rowan-Salisbury schools cleave close to the district graduation rate, there is some variance. Most notably, Rowan County Early College has a graduation rate greater than 95 percent. Carson’s is 89.5 and West Rowan High School’s is 87.5.

The schools with the lowest four-year graduation rates are Henderson Independent High School, at 15 percent, and Salisbury High School, at 81 percent.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools staff plans to mine through this data in the coming days and weeks.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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