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NEWS RELEASES 2000-01 :: OCTOBER 6, 2000


Hurricane Floyd, which devastated eastern North Carolina in 1999, continued to make history this week when the State Board of Education approved changes to the accountability status of three schools destroyed by the storm's flooding. This is the first time the State Board has ever approved a school's appeal of its status.

Princeville Montessori School and Patillo Elementary School in Edgecombe County and the Rocky Mount Charter School had appealed their status under the ABCs of Public Education accountability program. All three schools had been designated as receiving No Recognition under the state's school accountability model. The No Recognition designation meant that the schools had at least half of their students scoring at or above Achievement Level III on the state end-of-grade tests, but did not meet their expected growth/gain standards as set by the State Board.

The schools appealed to the ABCs Compliance Commission noting that their growth goals were unrealistic for the 1999-2000 school year in light of the hardships suffered as a result of Hurricane Floyd. In each school's case, the school building was completely destroyed. As a result, students and teachers had nearly no instructional materials for an extended period of time and school was held under makeshift circumstances for most of the school year. In addition, many of the schools' students and faculty suffered devastating personal losses that continue to affect them. The Compliance Commission concluded that the growth standards for each school were not reasonable under the circumstances, and the State Board agreed.

All three schools' ABCs status was changed to Making Expected Growth/Gain. This means that the teachers and other certified staff in each school will receive incentive awards of $750 per person for certified staff and $375 per person for teacher assistants.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said that the Board's action "showed that there is room for heart" in the state's school accountability model.

"There are some who see the accountability program as based solely on numbers and cold calculations, but your action today shows that there is necessary flexibility in the model," he told Board members. "There is recognition that sometimes extenuating circumstances need to be considered."

State Board Chairman Phil Kirk commended the three schools that were granted a new ABCs designation. "Given what you went through, your performance is commendable. It shows everyone what dedication, persistence and hard work can do to overcome the most difficult situations."

Appeals from three other schools were denied, with the Compliance Commission finding that the assigned status for each should stand. These schools are Richmond Senior High School, Richmond County; Douglas Byrd Middle School, Cumberland County; and Imani Institute Charter Middle School.

The ABCs of Public Education, a reform effort begun in 1995, emphasizes accountability at the school level; instruction in the basics of reading, writing and mathematics and core courses at the high school level; and control at the local level. The ABCs accountability model began in 1996-97 for schools serving grades K-8. High schools were included in the program in 1997-98.

The ABCs accountability model is designed to measure achievement and performance with the goal of improving the overall level of student achievement in North Carolina. Growth/gain goals are set for each school annually by the State Board of Education. Schools are recognized in several categories each fall, and certified staff are eligible for bonuses of up to $1,500 per person. Low performing schools also may receive help from a state assistance team.

The categories of recognition are:

  • Schools Making Exemplary Growth/Gain (roughly defined as growth/gain that is 10 percent more than expected);
  • Schools Making Expected Growth/Gain
  • Schools with No Recognition
  • Low-Performing Schools (fail to meet expected growth/gain standard and have significantly less than 50 percent of their students performing at or above Achievement Level III).

In addition, the model recognizes Schools of Excellence (schools making expected growth/gain and having at least 90 percent of students performing at or above Achievement Level III); Schools of Distinction (schools with at least 80 percent of their students performing at or above Achievement Level III); and the 25 Most Improved K-8 Schools and the 10 Most Improved High Schools.

For more details about the ABCs program, please visit the Department of Public Instruction's web site, and click on Education Initiatives. Or, contact DPI's Communications Office at 919.807.3450, or the Division of Accountability Services at 919.807.3769.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.