RSS test scores improve, but not to pre-pandemic level

Published 12:10 am Sunday, September 4, 2022

SALISBURY — Following the trend of the rest of the state, Rowan-Salisbury Schools saw a significant improvement in test scores for the 2021-2022 school year, but figures continue to lag behind the pre-pandemic scores of 2019.

The percent of RSS students who scored proficient on tests went up from 31% to 34%, but in 2019 the district recorded 42% of students getting proficient scores on the standardized tests. The decline between 2019 and 2021, which happened across the state, was blamed on COVID-19.

The percent of RSS students who scored at level four or above on the tests, in the state’s “career and college ready” bracket, increased from 18% to 19%, but is still down significantly from the 30% figure in 2019.

RSS trails far behind the state, which had 51% of students in North Carolina score proficient on the test compared to 45% in 2021. In 2019, 59% of students were proficient.

This is the first year since 2019 the state has produced school grades. In 2020, there were no standardized tests, and in 2021 the tests were given, but districts were held harmless to their results and a strict rule that requires 95% of students to take the tests was not enforced.

District back in the low-performing category

The district had a decrease in the number of low-performing schools while Lynn Moody served as superintendent. The lists were not updated from 2020-2021, but the pandemic hurt test scores.

In 2019, the district had 45.5% of its schools identified as low-performing, but in 2022 that number increased to 75%. Twenty four of the district’s 32 schools are now on the low-performing list.

The state defines low-performing districts as those with more than half of their schools designated as low performers.

RSS is not alone picking up the designation this year. In 2019, there were eight low-performing districts. In 2022, 29 districts are on the list.

Low-performing status is one of the considerations for the state to continue the district’s special renewal status when it comes up for review.

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt and the last two RSS superintendents have been critical of the accountability method for determining school performance grades.

Moody openly derided standardized testing as a concept and Tony Watlington, who departed the district for Philadelphia in April, pushed to make growth a bigger factor in school performance ratings.

School performance scores are calculated with an 80/20 split between school achievement and growth. Some schools met growth targets but were still given poor overall performance grades. Here is a list of school performance grades in RSS, sorted alphabetically:

• Bostian Elementary: C, with a performance score of 65. Met growth.

• Carson High: C, with a performance score of 63. Did not meet growth.

• China Grove Elementary: D, with a performance score of 41. Did not meet growth.

• China Grove Middle: D, with a performance score of 42. Did not meet growth.

• Corriher-Lipe Middle: D, with a performance score of 40. Did not meet growth.

• Hanford Dole Elementary: F, with a performance score of 25. Did not meet growth.

• East Rowan High: C, with a performance score of 55. Did not meet growth.

• Erwin Middle: D, with a performance score of 40. Did not meet growth.

• Granite Quarry elementary: D, with a performance score of 42. Met growth.

• Henderson Independent School: Alternative school.

• Hurley Elementary: F, with a performance score of 31. Met growth.

• Isenberg Elementary: D, with a performance score of 43. Met growth.

• Knollwood Elementary: F, with a performance score of 38. Did not meet growth.

• Knox Middle: F, with a performance score of 26. Did not meet growth.

• Koontz Elementary: F, with a performance score of 33. Met growth.

• Landis Elementary: C, with a performance score of 56. Met growth.

• Millbridge Elementary: C, with a performance score of 55. Met growth.

• Morgan Elementary: D, with a performance score of 44. Did not meet growth.

• Mt. Ulla Elementary: C, with a performance score of 66. Exceeded growth.

• North Rowan Elementary: F, with a performance score of 26. Did not meet growth.

• North Rowan High: D, with a performance score of 49. Did not meet growth.

• North Rowan Middle: F, with a performance score of 27. Did not meet growth.

• Overton Elementary: F, with a performance score of 34. Did not meet growth.

• Rockwell Elementary: C, with a performance score of 60. Did not meet growth.

• Rowan County Early College: B, with a performance score of 75. Met growth.

• Salisbury High: D, with a performance score of 52. Did not meet growth.

• Shive Elementary: D, with a performance score of 47. Did not meet growth.

• South Rowan High: D, with a performance score of 52. Did not meet growth.

• Southeast Middle: F, with a performance score of 35. Did not meet growth.

• Summit K-8 Virtual Academy: F, with a performance score of 37. Did not meet growth.

• West Rowan Elementary: D, with a performance score of 54. Met growth.

• West Rowan High: D, with a performance score of 51. Did not meet growth.

• West Rowan Middle: F, with a performance score of 37. Did not meet growth.

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About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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