11/13/13 Most local schools at or above state expectations

Most local schools at or above state expectations
ABSS nearly 11 percent higher than N.C. average
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 11/13/13  
Reprinted with permission.      

   Most local schools met the state’s expectations, even if most students did not score proficient in last year’s end-of-year testing.

   While the state is not ready to use the end-of-grade and end-of-course test scores released last week to grade schools or measure students’ progress, some useful information is coming from them.

   “Of course, when we are where all of the schools in our state are right now, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Steve Achey, director of accountability, research and evaluation at the Alamance-Burlington School System.

   The state just started using these much-more-difficult tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the N.C. Essential Standards last school year.

   The idea is for schools to have high school graduates ready for college or work in the modern economy. This will take harder classes and tests to track students’ progress, the argument goes.

   Last year’s scores are intended to form a base to compare with future test scores to measure student progress, or lack thereof.

   “This is not just a minor adjustment to an existing curriculum,” Achey said. “This is a profoundly different and more challenging set of standards.”

   Achey said School Accountability Growth is still a useful comparison.

   That is the set of data that give schools ratings like “meets expected growth,” “did not meet growth” or “exceeded expected growth.”

   Those grades also come from EOG and EOC tests, but the raw scores are measured against how much progress the state expected students to make in a year based on previous years’ test scores.

   By those standards, ABSS compares well to the state, with most schools at or above expectations and coming out nearly 11 percent above the state average.

   Of the district’s 34 schools, 15 met expectations, 12 exceeded expectations and six did not meet expectations.

   The schools can get that information down to the class and individual students as well, Achey said. While that information is protected and not released to the public, it can help teachers and families see what a student needs.

   “We can identify students that we need to do a better job growing,” Achey said.

   The school system is also responding to the raw scores that came out Thursday, Achey said.

   The state will not use those scores for school and teacher accountability measures for two more school years, but they will be used to give letter grades to schools next fall.

   Principals from the district’s elementary, middle and high schools have been meeting this week to talk about how their schools did, Achey said, and figure out where their schools need to improve.

   While the new scores are not making schools look good this year, Achey said, they are important for schools, teachers and students to get right.

   “If we soft-pedal these numbers, it’s not going to be doing them any favors,” Achey said.

ABSS Performance Scores