School Performance Grades released for KCS

School Performance Grades released for KCS
Posted on 02/05/2015
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For the first time, North Carolina is releasing performance grades for all public schools across the state. The new measures, called School Performance Grades, are required by the legislature and give every school a letter grade from A to F.  The grades are for the 2013-2014 school year and are based entirely on standardized test scores. For K-8 schools, 80% of the grade is based on the results of end of grade tests in Reading, Math, and Science. At the high school level, 80% of the grade is based on Biology, Math I, and English II end of course tests. The high school grades also include ACT and WorkKeys tests as well as the four-year graduation rate and the percentage of students who successfully complete Math III (formerly called Algebra II). Only 20% of each school’s grade comes from students’ academic growth.


“From an educational perspective, student growth is a much better measure of how well a school is doing than standardized test results,” says Kelly Burgess, KCS Director of Student Assessment. “Research consistently shows that standardized tests say much more about students' economic background than they do about how much children are learning. In addition, the state recently set new benchmarks for end of grade tests. That renorming process automatically lowered test scores and led to many schools in the state getting lower letter grades than they would have in the past.”


Across the state, 64.5% of schools received either Cs or Ds. The chart below shows the grades for Kannapolis City Schools:


School

School Performance Grade

A.L. Brown High

C

Forest Park Elementary

C

Fred L. Wilson Elementary

C

Jackson Park Elementary

C

Kannapolis Intermediate

D

Kannapolis Middle

D

Shady Brook Elementary

C

Woodrow Wilson Elementary

D

 

Last October, the Kannapolis City Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution that called for an overhaul of the letter grade system. The resolution recommended an alternative grading system that would put more weight on student growth and give “a truer vision of the performance of our schools.”  Statewide, thirty school boards adopted similar resolutions. 


KCS Superintendent, Dr. Pam Cain agrees that student growth should be a bigger factor in the letter grades. However, she also says Kannapolis City Schools will work to improve overall achievement. “Our children come from different backgrounds, ability levels, and cultures, and they consistently make growth,” Cain said. “However, we know our scores are not where we want them to be. Our new strategic plan addresses our needs and focuses on improving literacy, math, and science. As we implement the plan, I believe we will continue to see success in academic growth and begin to achieve higher performance grades.”


During the strategic planning process last fall, Kannapolis City Schools developed a task force to improve its performance in math. The task force is made up of teachers, curriculum leaders, and professors from UNC Charlotte. Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Chip Buckwell, is leading the task force. “We are designing professional development for our teachers that will give them new ways to help students understand math,” Buckwell says. “We also are getting more consistent in the way that we teach math across the district. UNC Charlotte has been a tremendous partner, and our teachers have been receptive to the changes. I think we will see a big difference in the near future along with much better math performance.”


Leaders at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh have pointed out that school performance grades do not provide a full picture of school quality. They encourage parents and others to consider several measures, including academic growth, graduation rate, and preparing students for college and careers. KCS parent, Kristina Cook, says her family has been extremely impressed with Kannapolis City Schools. She is President of the Forest Park Elementary PTO. “I think Forest Park and Kannapolis City Schools do a phenomenal job of making learning fun and enjoyable for students,” Cook said. “The teachers have been tremendous, and my children have received an excellent education.” 


Sherry Hodgson and her husband, Mark, also have children in Kannapolis City Schools. Their children have attended Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Kannapolis Intermediate School, Kannapolis Middle School, and A.L. Brown High School. Mark and Sherry Hodgson currently serve on the PTO boards of Woodrow Wilson Elementary and KMS.  Mark commented, “We feel that KCS has met our high expectations with regards to the education each of our children has received so far. Our children are better people thanks, in part, to many of the teachers within the KCS system. We continue to be grateful every day that our children are in such a safe and effective learning environment.” 


In November, KCS was one of only four North Carolina school districts that earned national recognition for excellence in administering Advanced Placement college level courses. The College Board named KCS to its 2014 AP Honor Roll for increasing access to AP course work and maintaining or increasing the percentage of students who scored 3 or higher on AP Exams. Also in 2014, Kannapolis City Schools received teacher effectiveness ratings from the state that were among the best in the region and better than the state average.


The scores released today are included in the North Carolina School Report Card that is being sent home to parents. All parents will receive a copy of the report card for their child’s school. In addition to the performance grades, the report card includes information about class sizes, attendance, school safety, instructional resources, and teacher quality. Kannapolis City Schools will send home copies of the report cards in English and Spanish during February. Parents and community members may access the report cards now by visiting the school report cards website

 

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