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NEWS RELEASES 2006-07 :: OCTOBER 5, 2006


Fifty-seven percent of North Carolina high schools made expected or high academic growth under the state's school accountability model in 2005-06 and a total of 71.4 percent of end-of-course tests scores were reported at the proficient level or higher, according to the 2005-06 ABCs of Public Education accountability report released today.

The results released today are based on new ABCs growth formulas, which raise standards for meeting academic growth targets. Higher academic standards and a stronger focus on academic rigor are at the heart of the State Board of Education's agenda for 21st century skills and learning for all students.

"This is a new day for school standards in North Carolina," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "With the second-generation ABCs formulas, we have set the bar higher for academic growth. The good news is that many high schools are demonstrating strong academic performance, but we know that many others need help to improve instruction, to strengthen the academic climate and to provide better opportunities for students."

"High schools and high school students need our attention, and they are receiving it," said State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee. "Today's news underlines the reason that high school reform is a primary focus of our work at the State Board of Education and at the Department of Public Instruction. With this focus in mind, we are providing some level of assistance services to approximately 200 high schools across the state, including those identified as low performing under the ABCs."

The 2005-06 results are the first provided using the new ABCs formulas developed in 2005 to replace the original ones. The new formulas were developed after the General Assembly directed the State Board of Education to complete a thorough evaluation of the ABCs standards. This evaluation highlighted reasons for re-developing the ABCs formulas based on more recent growth rates and on lessons learned from a decade of experience with a statewide accountability model.

The new formulas calculate growth using previous assessments of students to predict performance on the following eight mandated end-of-course tests: Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, English I, Geometry, Physical Science and Physics. US History and Civics and Economics will be included in growth calculations starting with the 2006-07 school year although results from these two end-of-course tests as well as results from the grade 10 writing assessment are included in the performance composites for this report. In addition, the percentages of students completing College/University Prep or College Tech Prep courses of study, the ABCs dropout rate, and the passing rate on the high school competency test are included in the ABCs calculations.

Although the results for the high schools were released today, results for K-8 schools will not be available until Nov. 1. Elementary and middle school students took new mathematics assessments in the spring of 2006, and additional time is needed to set achievement cut scores for the new assessments and to perform other analyses before the K-8 ABCs results can be compiled.

Because this year's ABCs results are based on new formulas, state school accountability officials cautioned against comparing results to previous years.

In the 2005-06 school year, three high schools earned a designation of Honor Schools of Excellence, the highest category of performance. Honor Schools of Excellence also met the federal requirement of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in addition to having met at least Expected Growth and having 90 percent or more of their students' test scores at or above the proficient level.

Two schools (0.5 percent) are Schools of Excellence, which means that they met at least Expected Growth and had 90 percent or more of their students' test scores at or above the proficient level.

Twenty-eight schools (7 percent) are Schools of Distinction, which means that they met at least Expected Growth and had 80-89 percent or more of their students' test scores at or above the proficient level.

A total of 146 schools are Schools of Progress, which means that these schools met at least Expected Growth and had 60-79 percent of their students' test scores at proficient or better.

One hundred and twenty-one schools, or 30.6 percent, are No Recognition Schools. These schools did not meet their Expected Growth goals even though they had 60 percent or more of their students' test scores at the proficient level or better.

Sixty-one schools, 15.4 percent, are Priority Schools – schools with less than 60 percent of their students' test scores at the proficient level or better and making Expected Growth or High Growth and schools that have 50-59 percent of students' test scores at the proficient level or better regardless of growth.

Eight schools had no ABCs status because they are special schools.

Incentive awards

The ABCs program provides incentive awards to teachers, principals and other certified school-based staff, in addition to teacher assistants. In all schools that attain the High Growth standard, certified staff members each receive up to $1,500 incentive awards and teacher assistants receive up to $500. In schools attaining Expected Growth, certified staff members each receive up to $750 and teacher assistants receive up to $375. This year, funds for incentive awards will be released to local school districts following the November release of the K-8 ABCs accountability results with the goal of districts being able to provide the incentive awards in December to all staff who earn them.

Assistance teams assigned

This year, 14 high schools were identified as Low-Performing Schools. These schools have significantly less than 50 percent of their students' test scores at the proficient level or above and did not make Expected Growth or High Growth.

Based on State Board of Education action, state assistance teams were assigned to the following schools: Bertie High School (Bertie County), Hertford County High School (Hertford County Schools); Carver High School and the School of Pre-engineering (Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools); Reidsville High School (Rockingham County Schools): Andrews High School, Middle College at A&T, Guilford Technical Community College Middle College, (Guilford County Schools); Northwest Halifax High School and Southeast Halifax High School (Halifax County); Red Springs High School (Public Schools of Robeson County); and Hillside High School and Southern High School (Durham Public Schools); and Garinger High School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools).

High school assistance is broadened

ABCs assistance teams are just one form of state assistance or intervention in schools that are not performing well. In addition to the ABCs assistance teams, teams have been working with 44 high schools identified in 2005 because of performance composites below 60 percent. High school assessment staff also will be working with approximately 200 high schools identified in 2006 as having performance composites below 70 percent.

In September, State Board Chairman Lee and State Superintendent Atkinson joined Gov. Mike Easley to launch a statewide effort to conduct performance audits in all 115 school districts with a goal of ensuring the smart, targeted use of resources in all public high schools. One goal of the audit — to be performed by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a team of school finance experts — is to identify best practices in spending and allocating resources in the highest performing high schools and replicate them in other schools.

High school reform and redesign also is underway statewide. Through the partnership of the State Board of Education, the Department of Public Instruction and the NC New Schools Project, 25 redesigned high schools and 33 Learn and Earn early college high schools have been launched since 2003, and more are planned in future years.

High school AYP targets

Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is a performance measure required by the federal No Child Left Behind education law. Each state must set AYP targets for the percentage of students proficient on state tests. Under federal law, each state's ultimate goal is 100 percent proficiency by 2013-14. AYP requires measuring progress on these targets by groups of students — a very rigorous standard. Among North Carolina's high schools, 47.8 percent of the state's 395 high schools with an AYP status met AYP.

ABCs background information

The ABCs accountability model measures school achievement in two primary ways: the percentage of students' test scores at or above the proficient level (performance composite) and whether the school has met academic growth expectations from one year to the next. The growth measurement provides the basis for awarding incentive awards, but both measures are important indicators of schools' success over time.

The ABCs results for 2005-06 high schools released today provide school-level performance results for 395 high schools. High schools were held accountable under the ABCs beginning with the 1997-98 school year. The ABCs model began one year earlier, in 1996-97, for elementary and middle schools. At every level of schooling, the ABCs model emphasizes school-building level accountability and a focus on instruction in basic, core subjects.

The tests used for ABCs accountability purposes—the end-of-course and end-of-grade assessments—include the assessments used to determine Adequate Yearly Progress and for the state's student accountability standards. The end-of-course assessments are given to students during the final five days of each course (semester-long course) or during the final 10 days of each course (year-long course) and take approximately two hours each.

For more information about the ABCs high school report, please contact the NC Department of Public Instruction's Communications division at 919.807.3450. The complete ABCs high school report is available online at

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.