Mount Airy School Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little is pleased with the results of the State’s ABCs of Public Education for his school system.
“Mount Airy schools have had another tremendous year when it comes to testing,” commented Little. “It was a great year across the board. We think of ourselves as a preeminent school district in North Carolina and our scores back that up.”
He added that many good things happening in the district do not show up in testing. Little cited the hard work of teachers and support staff and pointed out Mount Airy was an “exceptional” district not only for academic achievement but athletics and arts. He said the district also has scored highly in parent surveys.
“All of our schools met or exceeded expected growth goals,” said Little. “I feel this is important because we cannot control the level of knowledge possessed by students as they enter our system, but we can when they have been with us.”
Little said that all city schools had met or exceeded Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) targets with a score of 90 percent and also met 40 of 41 Local Education Agency (LEA) goals for an overall score of 97.6 percent, with Mount Airy Middle School scoring 100 on its LEA targets.
“Imagine what we could do if we were fully funded,” mused Little.
He said that once again Mount Airy Schools had a graduation rate of 91.4 percent, which puts the district among the top schools statewide. The state’s average is 80.2 percent, which is the highest it has enjoyed in its history. Little explained that the state had moved to ACT (college entrance examination) tests.
Little explained that Mount Airy’s schools have chosen to administer a special version of the ACT to its eighth-graders in the 2011-2012 school year. He said Mount Airy is one of just a few in the state who have done this. Many school districts waited until this school year to give this test.
He said that Mount Airy has scored above the national average on all English, math and science areas of the test and 10th-graders also had scored above the national average in the PLAN (college readiness test).
“Our first results on national came back positive,” said Little. “I think this is even more impressive when you consider that we tested 100 percent of our students while only those saying they are going to college are tested nationally. That’s a positive thing about our data.”
Little explained that the 2011-2012 school year was the first year giving the ACT. He said 100 percent of the system’s juniors were tested.
“Our whole staff and students were learning the test while giving or taking it,” said Little. “Subsequent testing will be on students and staff that are more familiar with the ACT and presumably more prepared.”
He said that 52 percent of the students tested would have scored highly enough to qualify for admission to Western Carolina and the University North Carolina-Greensboro.
Little said other positive achievements in addition to the ABCs and test scores included Mount Airy Middle athletics teams winning a total of 78 percent of their events, Mount Airy High winning six state championships, Jones Intermediate School feeding an average of 40 children daily with its Hungry Bear backpack program and Tharrington Primary initiating a community day to benefit Jim Armbrister, former D.A.R.E. officer battling cancer, that raised $26,000.
Little also said he felt the district’s focus on early literacy was important.
“We are front-loading resources to move the needle on early literacy,” added Little. He said that two curriculum facilitators had been added in the K-5 grades to especially focus on literacy and mathematics.
“A child can bounce back, I believe, from early struggles, but it’s easier if they don’t have to,” commented Little. “Our goal is to increase the amount of students that area at the expected learning level by the time they reach third grade.”
He said he was excited that parents are satisfied that students have opportunities in art, academics and athletics.
“I am thrilled to be working with people that are so dedicated,” concluded Little. “Things like this are not captured in scores. We’ve taken good steps towards being a national leader.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.