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For Immediate Release 
October 4, 2001

ABCs Results Highlight Expansion of High Performing Schools;
Fewer Schools Met Growth Targets

In 1996-97, only 12 schools in North Carolina were identified as Schools of Excellence — schools with 90 percent or more of their students at or above grade level and meeting or exceeding their growth goals for student achievement. In 2000-01, there were 171 schools that met those high standards.

Nearly one-third of all schools had at least 80 percent of students at or above grade level in 2000-01. Fewer than 10 percent of all schools met these criteria for Schools of Distinction in 1996-97.

At the same time that more high-performing schools were identified, fewer schools qualified as meeting Exemplary Growth, defined as roughly 10 percent over their Expected Growth targets. The percentage of schools making Exemplary Growth fell from 45.2 percent to 24.1 percent. A total of 520 schools met Exemplary Growth in 2000-01.

These facts are just a few of the highlights from A Report Card for the ABCs of Public Education released today. The Board also received a report of preliminary state level data for the testing program which showed a growing percentage of students overall who performed at or above grade level in both reading and mathematics. In 2000-01, 71.7 percent of North Carolina’s third through eighth graders were proficient in both basic subjects. This is up from 61.7 percent in 1996-97, the first year of the ABCs accountability program.

Overview

The Report Card released today provides school-by-school performance results for all of the state’s 2,158 public schools eligible to participate in the program. The 2000-01 school year was the fifth year that K-8 schools participated in the ABCs program, and the fourth year for high schools.

The ABCs model recognizes both growth in student achievement and the percentage of students performing at grade level (Achievement Level III for grades 3-8) as measured by North Carolina end-of-grade tests or proficiency level (Achievement Level III for grades 9-12) on high school end-of-course tests.

To review the entire ABCs report, including the recognition categories and a list of schools by recognition category or by school district, please visit the following Web site: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us This special Web site is provided as a service by NeoNova Network Services to handle the unusually large audience for this report.

Racial Gaps Persist

State Superintendent Mike Ward said the ABCs report this year demonstrates that high-performing schools can still make strong growth in student achievement.

"I continue to be concerned, however, by the gaps in achievement among groups of students. The gap between African American and white students is persistent, even though all racial groups have shown strong improvements," Ward said, based on review of the state testing data.

In the elementary and middle grades, 82 percent of white students scored at grade level or better on both the reading and mathematics end-of-grade tests. For black students, that total was 52 percent. Percentages proficient or above for other racial groups include: Asian, 78.6 percent; American Indian, 60 percent; Hispanic, 58.7 percent; and multi-racial, 74.7 percent.

ABCs Bonuses to be Paid

School performance under the ABCs will again mean incentive bonuses will be paid over the next few weeks to many teachers and other certified personnel and teacher assistants. For schools classified as making Exemplary Growth, teachers and other certified personnel will receive gross pay bonuses of $1,500 and teacher assistants will receive $500 bonuses. Eligible personnel at schools that met Expected Growth will receive gross pay bonuses of $750 for teachers and other certified personnel and $375 for teacher assistants. A total of 56,313 certified personnel and 16,422 teacher assistants will receive awards totaling $75.5 million this year. This amount includes bonuses for staff in five ABCs pilot districts.

"Local teachers, principals and other eligible staff will receive their ABCs bonuses over the next few weeks. I want to thank legislators for their tremendous commitment to the ABCs in this very tough budget year. These bonuses demonstrate their support for North Carolina’s accountability program," said Phil Kirk, chairman of the State Board of Education.

Percentage of Schools in Each Category

The percentage of schools making Expected Growth increased from 24.6 percent in 1999-2000 to 35.6 percent in 2000-01. Schools in this category attained their expected growth standard as set by the State Board of Education. This standard is based on prior years’ performance for this school and the state overall. Seven hundred sixty-eight schools met Expected Growth.

Schools in the No Recognition category increased from 28.1 percent to 38.8 percent in 2000-01. There are a total of 836 schools receiving No Recognition. No Recognition is the category of schools that have 50 percent or more of their students at or above Achievement Level III but did not make their Expected Growth standard.

Low-Performing schools now make up only 1.4 percent of all schools, down from 2.1 percent last year and 7.1 percent in 1996-97 when the ABCs began. Thirty-one schools were identified as Low Performing. Low-Performing schools are those that fail to meet their expected growth standard and have significantly less than 50 percent of their students performing at or above Achievement Level III.

Fourteen Low-Performing schools were assigned assistance teams for this school year. Assistance teams of experienced educators are assigned annually to Low-Performing schools to help them make needed improvements.

Report Highlights Challenges

State education officials expected that the percentage of schools making Exemplary Growth could drop in 2000-01. Changes to the high school model to make it more comparable to the K-8 model also made it more challenging.

Several efforts are under way to help improve high schools and middle schools. A new organization, the North Carolina High School Network, has formed to help high schools find ways to restructure and improve. Through federal Comprehensive School Reform Grants, 26 high schools are receiving funds to help in reform efforts. In July, DPI and the High School Network sponsored the first High School Conference. Also, four high school instructional specialists are on staff in the DPI Division of School Improvement to work with Low-Performing high schools not assigned an assistance team.

A Middle Grades Task Force, in collaboration with the NC Middle Schools Association, is working on recommendations for improving instructional practices at the middle grades level.

Background

The ABCs of Public Education emphasizes accountability at the school level and instruction in basic, core subjects. The model uses end-of-grade tests in reading and mathematics to measure student achievement in grades 3-8 for growth. It uses tests in reading, writing, mathematics and computer skills for the performance composite.

At the high school level, the accountability measures are more numerous and include student performance on the 10 mandatory end-of-course tests. These are: Algebra I; Algebra II; Biology; Chemistry; Economic, Legal and Political Systems; English I; Geometry; Physical Science; Physics; and U.S. History. Other measures are: results on the English II writing test index; a comprehensive test in reading and mathematics administered to 10th graders to measure growth since eighth grade; current year-to-baseline (average of two previous years) comparison of percentages of students completing College/University Prep or College Tech Prep courses of study; the gain in the passing rate on high school competency tests from the end of the eighth grade to the end of 10th grade; and the ABCs dropout rate.

For more information about the ABCs report, please contact Lou Fabrizio, DPI Director of Accountability Services, at 919-807-3770; or the Division of Communications and Information at 919-807-3450.

 


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