WS/FCS' graduation rate increases for fifth straight year
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To see schools' performance on state tests, please click here.
To see how schools did meeting annual measurable objectives, please click here.
AUGUST 2 - More than 80 percent of seniors graduated in 2012 from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in four years, the fifth straight year the district’s graduation rate increased, according to statistics released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction today.
Graduation rates were included in the annual ABCs of Public Education accountability report given to the State Board of Education. The graduation rate for WS/FCS increased from 78.8 percent in 2010-11 to 80.9 percent in 2011-12, the highest rate since the state began calculating graduation rates in 2006. The state rate increased from 77.9 percent to 80.2 percent.
The rate of WS/FCS students graduating in five years also increased, from 78.0 percent to 81.2 percent (See Chart 1).
“Our goal is for 90 percent of our students to graduate in five years by 2018, and each of the past five years we have made steady progress toward that mark,” said Superintendent Don Martin. “We have to thank our students, their families, our staff and amazing support from the community for the success we are seeing.”
Increasing the graduation rate has been a key focus of the United Way of Forsyth County, the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Graduate. It Pays, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Communities in Schools. Beginning in 2007, these organizations provided additional resources such as summer transition programs, tutoring and mentoring in specific schools. In those five years, the graduation rate increased from 70.7 percent to 80.9 percent.
Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy graduated 100 percent of its students in four years, and five other schools graduated more than 90 percent in 2012. North Forsyth High School’s graduation rate increased 8.2 percentage points to 82.3 percent, Mount Tabor High School’s rate increased 6.8 percentage points to 92.8 percent, and rates for Carver and Glenn high schools each increased at least five percentage points to 72.6 percent and 84.2 percent, respectively.
Along with graduation rates, DPI released results from last year’s state tests in the last year of the ABCs program. The ABCs began in 1996-97 but will be replaced next year by the READY initiative as North Carolina changes from measuring proficiency to measuring whether students are college and career ready. At the same time, the state curriculum will incorporate the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. The new standards are designed to teach students to think critically and solve problems, and READY will better measure those skills.
In WS/FCS, scores for grades 3-8 in math and reading decreased slightly, while science scores increased. The percentage of students on grade level in reading went from 69.0 to 67.9, in math, the percentage decreased from 83.2 to 81.8, and the percentage in science increased from 72.0 to 74.1. High school scores increased, as the percentage of students on grade level in English I, Algebra I and Biology went from 75.0 to 77.1.
“As we’ve done with graduation rates, we want to see continuous improvement in students’ proficiencies, so I’m not pleased with any loss in momentum. I will say that flat performance in some areas could reflect the impact of budget reductions,” Martin said. “Our teachers have spent considerable time this year training to implement the new Common Core next year, so I am confident we are prepared and will see progress next year. I also think some of our students will benefit from the additional time they spent in the BELL program this summer.”
Forty-five schools, or 61 percent, showed at least expected growth in their test scores in 2011-12. Of those, 18, or 24 percent, showed higher-than-expected growth. For the state, 80 percent of schools met or exceeded their expected growth in 2011-12. The numbers were down from 2010-11, when 84 percent of WS/FC schools and 81 percent of N.C. schools met their growth goals (See Chart 2).
The ABCs program measures a school according to three standards: how well students do on the tests at that school, called the performance composite, how much students improve from one year to the next, called the growth component, and whether schools met all of its annual measurable objectives, or AMO.
AMO replaces the federal benchmark of adequate yearly progress, or AYP. North Carolina received a flexibility waiver under No Child Left Behind from the U.S. Department of Education in May, allowing it to change from AYP to AMO. Both measures show how different subgroups of students, broken down by categories such as race, language and disabilities, perform on tests. While AYP set the same target for all subgroups, AMO creates different targets for each subgroup. The targets are based on past performances across the state and increase so that the percentage of nonproficient students in each subgroup is cut by half by 2016-17.
“The AMO measure is a vast improvement over AYP,” Martin said. “It recognizes that not all students start from the same place, yet it makes sure that we’re held accountable for reducing achievement gaps.”
The school system met 76 out of its 86 AMO targets, or 88 percent, in 2011-12. That’s up from 2010-11, when it met 64 of 78 AYP targets, or 82 percent. North Carolina met 77 of 91 targets last year, or 85 percent. Thirty-one of 81 individual schools met their targets, or 38 percent, and six schools missed one target. In 2010-11, 17 of 81 individual schools, or 21 percent, met all of their targets (See Chart 3).
Recognition categories under the ABCs are based on a combination of a school’s proficiency and growth and whether it met all AMO targets.
The state recognized 13 WS/FCS schools as Honor Schools of Excellence: Clemmons Elementary, The Downtown School, Jefferson Elementary, Lewisville Elementary, Meadowlark Elementary, Sherwood Forest Elementary, Vienna Elementary, Whitaker Elementary, Jefferson Middle, Meadowlark Middle, Early College, Reagan High and West Forsyth High. Schools in this category met or exceeded growth goals, had 90 percent or more of their students at or above grade level and also met all of their AMO targets.
Eleven schools were recognized as Schools of Distinction: Brunson Elementary, Caleb’s Creek Elementary, Cash Elementary, Moore Magnet, Old Richmond Elementary, Morgan Elementary, Piney Grove Elementary, Southwest Elementary, Hanes Middle, Atkins High and Mount Tabor High. Schools in this category met or exceeded growth goals and had 80 percent or more of their students at or above grade level.
Fourteen schools were named Schools of Progress, or schools that met their growth goals and had between 60 percent and 79 percent of their students performing at or above grade level. The school system also had 17 schools that received no recognition and 13 schools that were designated priority schools. Priority schools have between 50 percent and 59 percent of their students at or above grade level. Three schools were designated low performing, and seven schools do not receive a status because they are special schools or did not have sufficient data. All four alternative schools made growth but did not receive a status, with Kingswood School at The Children’s Home exceeding its growth goals.
The 31 schools that met their AMO targets were Caleb’s Creek Elementary, Cash Elementary, Clemmons Elementary, The Downtown School, Jefferson Elementary, Kernersville Elementary, Lewisville Elementary, Meadowlark Elementary, Moore Magnet, Morgan Elementary, Old Richmond Elementary, Piney Grove Elementary, Sherwood Forest Elementary, Southwest Elementary, Vienna Elementary, Whitaker Elementary, Jefferson Middle, Meadowlark Middle, Carver High, Early College, East Forsyth High, Mount Tabor High, North Forsyth High, Reagan High, Reynolds High, West Forsyth High, Career Center, Carter High, Jacket Academy, Main Street Academy and Middle College.