School board gets first look at new accountability model

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

SALISBURY — There were lots of questions Monday night from school board members as they got a detailed look at the new accountability model for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

Will teachers be overloaded with work in trying to manage student portfolios? The answer: Over time, work will become a daily part of the work schedule.

Will there be a different approach to how students are classified by grade levels? In the future, students might get a set of teachers for the year who aren’t assigned to a specific grade, said Superintendent Lynn Moody.

What sort of accountability will there be to ensure teachers don’t inflate a student’s ability? Teacher judgment will be just one of three areas used to judge a student’s ability, said Assistant Superintendent Julie Morrow.

While some questions were met with “we don’t know yet,” RSS hopes to gather more feedback in the next two weeks before seeking approval of the plan from the school board on Oct. 28, Moody said. All parts of the accountability model would not be implemented following passage, with some projected to be in place in two or more years, Moody said.

“This is a journey, and we wouldn’t expect this to happen next year,” she said.

On Monday, the focus was getting feedback from school board members during the first detailed presentation of standards for academics, unique life goals and interpersonal skills — what RSS has called its “directional system.” Board members spent the first hour and a half of their meeting rotating among staff members sitting at tables to hear about those standards.

Under academic skills in the accountability model, standards will include: teacher evaluations of students,;evidence of real-world application; results of existing assessments taken by students in English, math, social studies and science; and, in the future, competency-based grading — not using a grade point average system.

“The teacher will say they’ve mastered it, there will be evidence in their portfolio that they’ve applied it to a real-world problem and they will have taken a standardized text — not a standardized test at the end of the year, items pulled that are aligned with the standards,” Moody said.

For unique life goals, standards will include: identifying passions in elementary school; creating a personalized high school interest plan in middle school; having students enrolled, enlisted or employed after high school; creating a comprehensive student portfolio; and a report about internships and job shadowing.

For interpersonal skills, standards will include a student reflection survey and a skill summary report by grade.

Among other things, the accountability model spells out how data will be collected and who will input data. In many cases, the responsibility for inputting data falls on teachers, which prompted questions from board member Travis Allen about teachers being overworked.

Moody said RSS’ new accountability model will buck traditional trends in public education.

“We’re going to be giving the public a lot more information than just a letter grade,” she said. “This is a completely new paradigm.”

While the state’s school performance scores are released once per year, Moody said RSS would regularly report data from its model to the public.

“It will be more transparent as we go through the year because it’s not just a standardized test,” she said. “The student report card will eventually look different and, along with the student report card looking different, our website and how we report it will, too.”

The school board didn’t vote Monday on the accountability model. Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Smith said RSS staff will continue distributing surveys to targeted groups, gathering questions about the model and making any changes needed in time for the Oct. 28 meeting.

The school system will also redesign its “renewal” website — with information on the accountability model.

Anyone with specific questions about RSS’ new accountability model can email Smith at