NEWS RELEASES 2014-15 :: FEBRUARY 5, 2015


North Carolina's first School Performance Grades are out, and 65.4 percent of elementary and middle schools earned a grade of C or better. For high schools, which have additional indicators of career and college readiness included in their grade, 88.8 percent earned a grade of C or better.

In addition, of the schools with a growth status, 79.5 percent of elementary schools met or exceeded academic growth goals, 73.1 percent of middle schools met or exceeded academic growth goals, and 69.5 percent of high schools met or exceeded academic growth goals.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said the first round of letter grades illustrated the need for growth to play a role equal to performance. "Growth is the most important indicator of a school's impact on students' learning. I plan to work with legislators this session to see if we can modify the formula so that it provides a letter grade for both student achievement and growth."

"North Carolina public school parents now have an easy-to-understand letter grade to help them evaluate school performance," State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said. "The State Board will be considering how to assist schools that received a letter grade of D or F. We have requested funding from the General Assembly to support school turnaround efforts and professional development for teachers so that we can continue intervention services for the lowest-performing schools."

As required by state legislation, the School Performance Grades are based 80 percent on the school's achievement score and 20 percent on students' academic growth. The only exception to this is if a school meets expected growth but inclusion of the school's growth reduces the school's performance score and grade. In that case, a school may choose to use the School Achievement Score only to determine the performance score and grade. All public schools, including charter, receive grades.

The School Performance Grades, which reflect student performance during the 2013-14 school year, were presented to State Board of Education members during their monthly meeting. Legislation passed during 2013 requires the inclusion of School Performance Grades as part of the North Carolina School Report Cards that also were released today.

Of the state's 2,565 public schools and public charter schools, 2,424 received School Performance Grades. The 141 schools not included in the report may not have any tested grades or may have a transient or very small student population. Typically these schools are K-2 schools, special education schools, alternative schools and hospital schools. Following is the overall distribution of the grades for both public school and public charter schools.


* Due to rounding, the percent of schools will not total 100%.

Elementary and middle schools' achievement scores are based only on test scores. These include end-of-grade reading and mathematics tests at the 3-8 grade levels; an end-of-grade science test at grades 5 and 8, and if applicable, end-of-course tests in Math I and Biology.

The high school achievement score is based on student performance on Math I, English II and Biology end-of-course tests, and on the percentage of students who score 17 or above on The ACT (UNC System's minimum composite score requirement), the percentage of students who achieve a Silver Certificate or better on the ACT WorkKeys, the percentage of students who successfully complete Math III, and the school's four-year cohort graduation rate.

This year, school grades are provided on a 15-point scale, but current law states that the 2014-15 grades will reflect a 10-point scale.

For schools receiving an F letter grade, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will evaluate its district and school transformation resources and identify schools where it may provide district assistance to help those schools improve. The department has nearly 20 years of experience in successfully assisting low-performing schools to build leadership and teaching capacity for improvement.

School Performance Grades are included on the North Carolina School Report Cards ( under the School Performance Section. Each school's academic performance page includes the school's performance grade and student performance on other key academic measures. K-8 schools also receive a separate letter grade for reading and math performance.

"One letter grade cannot reflect all of the positive things happening in a school. It's important for parents to talk to a school's principal and teachers and to look at all of the school measures reflected in the North Carolina School Report Cards to determine how their child's school is doing in comparison to others in the district and across the state," Atkinson said.

Although this is the first year of School Performance Grades, North Carolina has had school-based accountability since 1996. The end-of-grade tests have been given to elementary and middle school students since 1993. These scores reflect only the second year of the READY accountability model with its strong focus on career and college readiness and its more rigorous standards.

There are a number of materials available online to help explain the School Performance Grades including a Background Brief and responses to Frequently Asked Questions. These documents can be accessed on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website – – under Highlights.

2013-14 School Performance Grade, School Performance Score and Growth Status by District/School

2013-14 School Performance Grades Executive Summary

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.