Mount Airy city school students showed slight improvement in end-of-grade testing at the end of the 2011-2012 when compared to the previous year and exceeded state averages across the board.
Overall, the percentage of students in each grade on the ABCs end of grade tests scoring at or above grade level for the 2011-2012 school year for the district was 75.3 percent in math and 87.3 percent in reading. The state average for the 2011-12 school year in reading was 71.2 percent and 82.8 percent in math.
In the 2010-2011 year, the city’s results showed 75.1 percent of students were at or above grade level in reading and 87 percent scored above or at grade level in math. The state averages for this same year were 70.7 percent in reading and 82.4 percent in math.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little said he is pleased with the overall performance reflected in the North Carolina School Report Cards recently issued by the department of education.
“We feel good about the growth and progress our students are making,” commented Little. “As we transition to common core and essential standards curriculum we hope to be even better with new teaching strategies in place.”
Mount Airy also improved slightly in the ABCs end of course tests in each course. In the 2011-2012 school year 90.3 percent of the district’s students in English were at or above grade level. In algebra I, 94.4 percent were at or above and greater than 95 percent were at or above in biology. By comparison, the state average for 2011-2012 was 82.9 percent in English I with 78.7 percent in algebra AI and 83 percent in biology.
In 2010-2011 Mount Airy scored 89.8 percent in English I, 92 percent in algebra I and 90.7 percent in biology. The state average in English I was 80.6 percent with 76.7 in algebra I and 79.9 percent in biology.
“We look on improvement in this area not in a yearly way,” explained Little. “It’s really long range. Our teachers and staff work especially hard to ensure success for each individual student. They work together on individual educational plans to put the best foot forward.” He added that much of this collaboration is helped by the professional learning communities composed of teachers.
“Even Jones School who had a lot of change over in many areas and did not have a bad year,” Said Little. “It has performed well and was designated a high growth school last year.”
The state report card also indicated the school district met 40 of 41 Annual Measurable Objectives schools must meet under the federal no child left behind program. The district was also 100 percent on fully licensed teachers with clear initial or clear continuing licenses for its elementary and middle schools and 98 percent in the high school. The state average is 99 percent for elementary, 96 percent in elementary and 94 percent in high schools.
Clear initial licences refer to licenses granted those beginning their career as a professional teacher. After a three-year period, the teacher is granted (or denied) what is called a clear continuing license by the state board of education.
“We get caught up in test scores but we don’t teach test scores. We teach children with different needs, strengths, and backgrounds,” said Little. “A teacher’s role goes so far beyond test scores. We understand it’s important and we do need to do well on them but our goal is to be a national leader in education. National leaders do more than test scores.”
Little again drew attention to educators across the state struggling in the face of shrinking budgets.
“I’m also most proud of the fact that although our budget has shrunk it has not stopped our teachers and staffs’ efforts to do the best for each child,” said Little. “Our people in this district make it what it is. Our focus on learning and achievement has not wavered. We don’t have students fall through the cracks here.”
He also explained traditionally in education raising standards usually results in a drop in scores. Coupling this with rolling out new common core and essential standards curriculum meant educators are virtually flying blind not knowing what the assessments of progress in these areas will look like as they teach them.
“Our teachers have worked unbelievably hard to create a more rigorous educational environment,” said Little. “They gave up a lot of their fall and summer and time with their families to be ready.”
Vickie Cameron, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Mount Airy School system, said doing more with less has drawn attention to the district.
“Everywhere we go in the state everyone wants to know what we’ve done,” said Cameron. “You can see a palpable change in how instruction is being delivered here. Rigorous course work, problem solving, teamwork, communication and math skills are all being taught to our students. Because of our size we can look beyond and be innovative. We’re stepping up to the plate with this in the classroom.”
The 2012 North Carolina School Report Cards, available online at www.ncreportcards.org, are in the 11th year of publication. The site features a collection of information about student performance and attendance, class size, school safety, teacher quality and classroom technology. The School Report Cards website also features data from the district and state levels for comparison purposes.
Other statistics in the report showed:
* The average number of classroom teachers in an elementary school for the district is 25, compared to the state average of 35. Mount Airy has an average of 29 teachers in its middle school and 40 in high school. The state average in middle school is 43 with 54 in high school.
* The average percentage of students attending school daily for elementary, middle and high schools for Mount Airy was 96 percent. The state average in this category for all three levels was 95 percent.
* The percentage of teachers who have completed an advanced college degree including a master’s or doctoral degree for the Mount Airy district was 35 percent in elementary and 37 percent in middle school. The state average is 30 percent in elementary and 28 percent in middle school. Mount Airy has and average of 32 percent of its high school teachers with advanced degrees while the state average is 27 percent.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.