North Carolina Public Schools Leaving Children Behind
Special Report - August 14, 2008
A staggering 61.1 percent of North Carolina public schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets set by No Child Left Behind for the 2007-2008 school year. The 38.8 percent passage rate for North Carolina public schools is down from 45 percent a year ago. The results, released Monday, July 21 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, are preliminary, based on math results until scores from the new third through eighth grade reading proficiency test scores are released in November. AYP is required under the federal No Child Left Behind law to provide a measuring stick for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to determine how their school is doing in meeting certain math and reading benchmarks. Scores for grades three through eight are calculated from attendance and reading and math scores. High school scores factor in English I, grade 10 writing, and Algebra I scores and four-year graduation rates. AYP measures subgroups of students against a fixed performance standard for all students and requires all subgroups in a school to meet or pass those standards. Schools that did not meet AYP with these preliminary scores will not meet AYP regardless of their reading scores. Meanwhile, schools that did meet AYP according to these preliminary results must record passing scores in the forthcoming reading proficiency results in order to still pass 100 percent of the subject areas as required by No Child Left Behind.
According to North Carolina’s ABCs of Public Education accountability program, 82 percent of North Carolina’s public schools posted expected or high academic growth in 2007-2008, up from 72 percent in 2006-2007. This model compares students’ academic performance growth from year to year with the typical growth in prior years across the state, based on individual scores so that public schools can focus more on basic skills, higher accountability, and more local control over education decisions. Growth from year to year, a schools' performance composite (defined as the percentage of student test scores that are at or above grade level proficiency) and Adequate Yearly Progress contribute to a school’s ABC score. In turn, ABC scores determine whether and what size bonuses a school and its teachers receive each year. The ABC program measures both the academic growth of students over the course of a year, and the percentage of students who score at or above grade level. Elementary and middle school growth is usually based on reading and math scores, but this year’s results include only math scores, making it impossible to compare them to last year. High school growth is calculated using end-of-course test results, dropout rates, and participation in college preparatory courses.
“There continues to be an inconsistency in the education results of North Carolina’s public school students between national and state standards,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “While growth as measured by the ABC program is admirable, appropriate grade level proficiency in core subjects like math and reading continues to lag behind national standards, putting North Carolina students at a disadvantage and robbing them of a quality education.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.