MESSAGES 2015 :: JANUARY 20, 2015

School Performance Grades Communication & Webinar Invite

Dear LEA Communication Staff,
I hope 2015 is off to a good start for you and your schools. There is a lot coming up quickly, so we at NCDPI's Communications division wanted to bring you up to speed on our plans for the first couple of months in 2015 regarding the A-F School Performance Grades and the School Report Cards for 2013-14. We have been seeing some of the materials that some of you are drafting to highlight the positive initiatives that your districts are using to increase student achievement and support of teachers.

Your district's School Performance Grades are now available to your testing coordinator, so I encourage you to work closely with that person to prepare. This is part of data preview to ensure that all the School Report Card data are accurate. The School Performance Grades are embargoed until Feb. 5 at 10 a.m. (approximate time of the State Board of Education presentation).

We anticipate that our Accountability division will present analyses of the performance grades to see the distribution statewide based on poverty rates, region, the old ABCs performance designations, teacher growth and grade span. These should be helpful in putting the grades in further context.

Key Points:

  • The A-F School Performance Grades were established by the General Assembly to begin for the first time in the 2013-14 school year. NCDPI is responsible for calculating and reporting the grades. The General Assembly in 2014 passed another law directing that the first set of letter grades be reported no sooner than Jan. 15, 2015. They will appear the first time in the School Report Cards scheduled for release on Feb. 5.
  • The letter grades are one data point for parents and others to consider – among many other data. That is why the SRC display includes the letter grade alongside other data points of interest regarding the school.
  • North Carolina is among 14 states that are using letter grades to describe school performance. Having said that, it is important to know that the 14 states using letter grades are calculating them in different ways. An A in North Carolina, for example, may represent a different standard than an A in Florida. There is not a national grading scale and process for school letter grades.
  • For 2013-14, we have redesigned the School Report Cards so that the letter grades display for each school. The new site is created in SAS Visual Analytics and also has functionality that we have not had in the past. Users can more easily do school-by-school comparisons now.

Key Dates:

  • Jan. 12-23 – SRC Data Preview time (without School Performance Grades). This may be extended since there have been some technical difficulties with preview.
  • Jan. 15 - School Performance Grades available to LEA testing coordinators.
  • Jan. 21 - READY Accountability background briefing document and question and answer document available.
  • Jan. 29 – Webinar, 10 a.m. for statewide news media, LEA communication directors/public information officers, and accountability staff. (This is a date change because of a schedule conflict regarding ongoing Leandro Hearings.) No data will be shared, just background and context only. Here's the log-in information:

North Carolina School Performance Grades and School Report Card Preview Join us for a webinar on Jan 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM EST. Register now!

A preview of the School Performance Grades and the School Report Card to be released on February 5th. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. View System Requirements

  • Feb. 2 – News release draft provided to local district communication directors.
  • Feb. 5 – School Report Cards for 2013-14 launch with A-F performance grades. Presentation to State Board of Education. News media briefing immediately following SBE meeting, Raleigh.

Resource Materials being prepared:

  • A READY Accountability Background Brief Supplement focusing on A-F Performance Grades including a timeline for school accountability and a copy of the law.
  • An FAQ on the A-F school performance grades.
  • A news release on the grades with state summary information.
  • Talking points on the school performance grades.

In addition, the School Report Cards will be accompanied by the usual resources for understanding that have been in place for a number of years. These have been updated to reflect the performance grades and also the new format of the Report Cards.