Schools show well in state results

By Jeff Linville -

North Carolina schools in the rural northwest again outshone their urban and eastern counterparts in the latest data released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The six counties in the foothills and mountain area had just one underperforming school, according to the 2017-18 Performance and Growth Data released this month.

Wilkes County’s Mountain View Elementary School scored a D in the state’s rating, the only one out of 88 schools (1.1 percent) between the public school districts of Surry, Mount Airy, Elkin, Wilkes, Yadkin, Stokes, Alleghany and Ashe.

Compare that to the state’s worst. Northampton had six out of seven schools score a D or F, 85.7 percent. Edgecombe County had 10 of 14, 71.4 percent; Halifax County 70 percent; Caswell and Tyrrell counties 66.7 percent.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County had 36.6 percent underperform, and Guilford (Greensboro and High Point) 36.2 percent. Charlotte-Mecklenburg was at 23.8 percent and Wake County (Raleigh) at 14.8 percent.

Surry County Schools noted that across the state, the rate of schools achieving a proficient score was 77.8 percent, but its district, as well as Mount Airy and Elkin, hit 100 percent.

The county school system added that the Surry Early College received a score of A (with a score of 93). That makes it one of only 31 schools to receive an A out of 451 schools in the Piedmont/Triad area.

Two of the others were the Wilkes Early College (92) and Yadkin Early College (95). Ashe, Alleghany and Stokes didn’t have a school receive an A.

Bridges Academy in State Road received a D, the only charter school in the area graded less than adequate. The state gave Bridges a score of 52, with a 40-54 being the range for that letter grade. The school achievement score was only 47.4, but the school growth score was much better at 71.5.

Millennium Charter Academy received a C, but only by one point. The school had a 69 when the range is 55-69, so it was one point from a B. The school’s achievement score was 69.8 and the growth score was 68.2.

City grades

Jones Intermediate received a proficient score of 62 that is in the middle of the range for a C. The achievement score was 57.4, but the growth was a robust 82.2.

B.H. Tharrington Primary School is below the third grade and is exempt from standardized testing, so it didn’t receive achievement and growth scores. It received a 62 as Jones did.

Mount Airy Middle earned a 61 for a C. The achievement score was 62.1 and the growth score 57.2.

The high school earned a B with a 77, in the middle of the range of 70-84. The achievement score was 74.3, but the growth score was in the A range at 87.6.

County grades

Surry County Schools has 19 schools.

The Early College had the lone A. However, Shoals Elementary didn’t miss it by much with an 83.

Others receiving a B grade were Rockford, 79; White Plains, 76; Surry Central, 74; Flat Rock, 72; Dobson Elementary and Pilot Mountain Middle with 71; and Pilot Mountain Elementary, 70.

Six schools just missed a B grade, with five of them receiving a 69: Copeland and Mountain Park elementary schools, Gentry Middle School, and East Surry and North Surry high schools. Cedar Ridge Elementary scored 68.

Others scoring a C were Franklin and Westfield elementary at 66, Meadowview Magnet Middle at 63, and Central Middle at 62.

County reaction

Surry County Schools provided another stat not listed in the report posted to the state website. The district said it ranked 16th of 115 school systems in the state in Overall Academic Performance with 66.2 percent of all tests in all subjects at Achievement Level 3 or higher.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and effort of our 1,100 employees on a daily basis to meet the needs of each individual student who enters our classrooms,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent.

Across all grade levels (3-8) on the reading, mathematics, and science End-of-Grade assessments, 66.8 percent of Surry County students scored at Achievement Level 3 (grade level proficiency) and above compared to 58.8 percent across the state.

Surry County Schools had nine End-of-Grade subject areas ranked in the state top 20: 5th grade mathematics (6th), 6th grade mathematics (10th), 8th grade science (10th), 5th grade reading (12th), 4th grade mathematics (15th), 4th grade reading (15th), 5th grade science (15th), 6th grade reading (15th), 8th grade mathematics (17th).

Similarly, on the English II, NC Math I, and biology End-of-Course assessments, 63.6 percent of Surry County students scored at Achievement Level 3. Proficiencies across the state averaged 58.5 percent. As in the End-of-Grade results, Surry County had an End-of-Course ranking in the state top 20: NC Math I (13th).

• As for high school graduation rates, Surry County graduated a record 91.7 percent of students from the 2014-15 ninth grade cohort in the spring of 2018, with the 15th-highest district graduation rate in the state. The state graduation rate for the cohort was 86.3 percent.

Individual school rates within the Surry County Schools system continued to excel: the Surry Early College graduated more than 95 percent of all students (the highest number tracked by the report was 95); East Surry’s rate was 91.3; Surry Central’s rate was more than 95 percent (an all-time school high), and North Surry graduated 85.0 percent of all students.

Two schools across the district, in addition to high performance, also had high academic growth. Westfield Elementary and Surry Early College exceeded state academic growth targets this year. In fact, Surry Early College exceeded growth for the fourth consecutive year. Additionally, 12 schools met the state academic growth targets.

City reaction

“Mount Airy City Schools continues to be one of the best school districts in North Carolina,” said Carrie Venable, public information officer. “The partnership between staff, parents and community members continues to positively impact students and the district’s success.”

“With the recent release of the 2017-2018 accountability data, MACS saw growth and successes as a result of the hard work of everyone,” Venable said. While many scores are above state average, district leaders and educators are not satisfied. Each employee in the district is dedicated to supporting and growing every child, every day. Teams are in place and are working closely through school improvement teams to establish goals and steps for intervention and support in identified areas.

The city schools noted that there were some changes in accountability measurements.

The district explained that the high school had 88 percent of the freshmen from four years ago ago graduate in June, but under who was included in those figures last year the number would have been 91 percent.

“Schools are now accountable for the progress of non-English speaking students in mastering English skills and are also subject to a number of other changes affecting School Performance Grades, growth calculations,” added Venable.

As a district, while mathematics is an area of strength, reading has been identified as an area in need of support.

The district listed some successes as:

• 100 percent of schools met or exceeded growth in mathematics.

Mount Airy Middle School:

• 6th grade mathematics and reading ranked 12th in the state;

• 6th grade mathematics 6th in state;

• 6th grade reading is 25th in the state;

• 7th grade reading experienced an 8.7 percent increase landing at 67.6 percent proficient;

• 100 percent of 8th grade students taking Math 1 and English 1 were proficient;

• 8th Grade English I students performed 14.6 percent above the state average.

Mount Airy High School:

• Top traditional high school in the region in school growth score;

• Ranked 7th in the state for proficiency in mathematics.

Growth proficiency not only measures how well students are learning or how well teachers are teaching. “Achieving high growth means educators are accomplishing the goal for personalizing the educational experience for each child – whether they are two years above grade level or two years below,” stated Venable.

Half of schools are above average

By Jeff Linville

City School Grade

Tharrington C

Jones C

M.A. Middle C

M.A. High B

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.