September 8, 2015

Dare County Schools discusses accountability results

The State Board of Education released accountability scores for the 2014-2015 school year on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Dare’s overall proficiency composite score of 63.5 percent is the 16th highest score in the state, according to the 2014-2015 Performance Composite District Ranking.

 In her first review of Dare County’s scores, Superintendent Dr. Sue Burgess remarked in a news release that, “We are very pleased with most of our results, but there are areas that must be addressed.”

In the release, Burgess praised teachers, guidance counselors, and principals for the continuing success in the on-time graduation rate. For the third year in a row, the most recent graduating class set a new record. The Class of 2015 posted an on-time rate of 93.8 percent, which was the third highest rate of the 115 school districts in North Carolina. Dare County Schools has been officially recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for being in the Top Ten for Graduation Rate for nine straight years.

Regarding proficiency scores on the End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests, Dare County was above the state average on all 17 tested areas, which include reading in grades 3 through 8, math in grades 3 through 8, science in grades 5 and 8, Math I (Algebra), English II (10th grade), and high school biology.

“We want to congratulate our teachers and students for being in the top 10 percent on six of the state tests, including fifth grade reading and math, eighth grade reading and science, Math I (Algebra), and English II (10th grade English),” said Burgess.

Additionally, Burgess identified four other state tests on which students’ scores were in the top 25 percent of the state’s 115 districts, including third grade reading, fifth grade science, sixth grade reading, and biology.

Five math EOG scores were in the top third of the state, including grades 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. Reading scores in grades 4 and 7 were in the top half of the state.

To read the entire report, go to

“In evaluating proficiency scores, it is important to look at how other North Carolina school districts are doing to get a better understanding of the context of the proficiency scores,” said Burgess in the news release, pointing out that proficiency scores dropped drastically statewide in 2012-2013 (the first year that the Common Core Curriculum was implemented) and have been very slow to rebound.

In addition to proficiency, schools are also rated on “growth,” which is intended to measure the amount of academic progress students make over a year’s time. The students at three schools exceeded growth expectations, including Kitty Hawk Elementary School, Manteo High School, and Nags Head Elementary School.

The students at four schools met expectations for a year’s growth, including First Flight High School, Manteo Middle School, First Flight Elementary School, and Cape Hatteras Elementary School.

Student scores at three schools fell below the state’s definition of expected growth, including Manteo Elementary School, Cape Hatteras Secondary School, and First Flight Middle School.

For the second year in a row, the state has issued letter grades to schools based on proficiency scores and growth in the tested subjects. For 2014-2015, five schools in Dare County received a B and five received a C.

The schools receiving a B included First Flight High School (80), Kitty Hawk Elementary School (79), Manteo High School (76), Nags Head Elementary School (75), and First Flight Elementary School (71). Cape Hatteras Elementary School (67), First Flight Middle School (63), Manteo Middle School (63), Cape Hatteras Secondary School (56), and Manteo Elementary School (55) all received an overall grade of C.

A press release from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction stated that 72 percent of schools in the state received a grade of C or better, and that 28 percent of schools in the state had received a D or F. By comparison, in Dare County, 100 percent of schools received a grade C or better, and none received a D or F.

As a caveat to that observation regarding overall grades, Burgess pointed out in the news release that she is greatly concerned about the letter grades in math assigned to all three middle schools, a D.

“Since we received the preliminary scores, principals and teachers have been studying last year’s results and looking for improvement strategies that can be implemented immediately,” said Burgess. “But after reviewing the statewide results for all middle schools, I find it disconcerting to see that 67 percent, or a full two-thirds of the state’s middle schools, received a D or an F in math. There appears to be a statewide disconnect between the middle grades math curriculum and the testing that goes with it.”

Burgess added that her staff has contacted a math consultant from the Department of Public Instruction to provide training and conduct demonstration lessons. Superintendents in the Northeast Regional Service Alliance are collaborating to provide local workshops and to review the efficacy of mid-year tests which are supposed to measure the effectiveness of instruction to date.

“I said this last year, and I’ll say it again,” Burgess continued. “I have major reservations about assigning a letter grade to a school based on a small number of state tests in reading, math, and science. Schools teach other subjects and provide a wide array of customer services that cannot be measured by 17 tests. Schools are much more than that.”

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