State News

NC judge weighs improvement at poor schools

Posted November 13, 2013

— A Superior Court judge charged with holding North Carolina officials responsible for giving every child a sound education began reviewing new test results on Wednesday that show a minority of public school students are performing at levels that would put them on track for college and a successful career.

Judge Howard Manning Jr. called a two-day special hearing, beginning Wednesday, to review year-end test results from this spring and other measures that will help determine whether the state is meeting its responsibility under state Supreme Court education rulings. Taxpayers are spending $7.9 billion this year to educate about 1.5 million public school students.

The new READY Accountability measure of student progress, released for the first time last week, started holding students to a higher standard. Students now are being tested for whether they have learned enough at their age to be considered on track to a career or college after graduation. Previous end-of-grade tests measured whether students had learned enough for their grade level.

But Manning noted that, out of more than 107,000 third-graders, just 45 percent were considered proficient readers under the new, tougher exams. Just 26 percent of the state's nearly 2,500 schools met all targets, which included math, science and reading scores, attendance, graduation rates and performance on a college-entrance exam.

"Those seniors who graduated last year and were not proficient, the race is over for them, isn't it?" Melanie Dubis, a lawyer representing poor school districts, asked the state Department of Instruction's testing expert.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Judge praises third-grade reading requirement

"Yes," Tammy Howard said.

The judge praised a state law the General Assembly adopted last year requiring that third-grade students prove they're able to read well before being promoted to the next grade. Those who are falling behind get intensive summer instruction to see if they can catch up before they are held back.

"It addresses everything that I have been griping about in grades K-3 since 2009, when I realized the children can't read and that's why they can't do very much when they get to high school," Manning said. "I give the bill an A-plus. The problem I see is the enforcement.

""If it's done the way it's supposed to be, we ought to see progress so that the third grade won't necessarily be the battleground. It'll already be won," he said.

Manning also will review the state's efforts to turn around the school system in Halifax County, one of the state's poorest and lowest-performing districts. A composite score of student performance in the school district was two-and-a-half-times lower than the statewide average. Manning ordered the state's intervention in Halifax County schools in 2009, calling the persistently poor test results a form of educational genocide.

The new statewide test results show that students in Halifax, Hoke, Robeson, and Vance counties – four of the five counties that are the focus of the long-running education funding case Manning is overseeing – still lag way behind the statewide average.


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  • mustainemad Nov 14, 2013

    Until parents/guardians are held to their responsibilities to raise respectful, well-behaved children who are ready to learn and not disrupt the classrooms, you can throw all the money in the world at education and it will not help one bit

  • Krimson Nov 14, 2013

    Red Dragon: "I didn't say anything about military families."

    When you talk disparagingly about the families that use the North Carolina Pre-K system, as offered by DCDEE, you are speaking SPECIFICALLY about military families who use the service when one parent (or both) goes on Active Duty.

  • jdupree Nov 13, 2013

    Manning has done so much damage to the NC Education system with his many controversial rulings. He has cost NC taxpayers a fortune with extreme, excessive, liberal rulings. It will be a great day when he retires!

  • tracmister Nov 13, 2013

    This will only get worse once tenure is ended, the countability scores for teachers become the law of the land, and pay is based on the top 25% because who is going to work for a county where you are likely doomed to failure when you can go to the next county and be relatively safe.

  • Confucius say Nov 13, 2013

    "Why do you hate Military Families so much???"

    I didn't say anything about military families. And to add one note to my earlier comment...a 2 parent family doesn't necessarily mean the biological mother and father are married and living in the same house with the kids. There are many parents who divorce and both continue to be a part of the child's life.

  • Krimson Nov 13, 2013

    Red Dragon: "And instead of addressing the problem, the government wants to just stick them in pre-kindergarten."

    Why do you hate Military Families so much???

  • Krimson Nov 13, 2013

    WEIN: "I would not leave it wide open."

    Yes, yes, yes. You would take Rights away from The People so you can avoid paying taxes. We know all about it...

  • Monkey_Joe Nov 13, 2013

    They wonder why schools perform poorly in low income areas? It's the same reason fat people don't do well at athletics. Fat people can't run and dumb people can't learn.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Nov 13, 2013

    whatelse - "Poor Schools??? What poor schools. The State allocates the same amount of money per pupil."


    Never been that way.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Nov 13, 2013

    cupofcoffee - "Judge Manning is a great champion for our school children. The net result of his decisions is that some children are getting better educations than they were before, and that's a good thing."


    Children in poor counties deserve the same education as those from wealthier ones do.

    Why on earth would anyone think it's ok for a child in, say Cary or Charlotte to get a better education than a child in Rocky Mount, etc.?

    It's not!!!

    School taxes should be bundled, and spread equally throughout the entire state's schools by the number of students attending each one. That's they only way to ensure at least an equal start for each student.

    But that's not the way NC does it.

    Some schools in some areas receive more money per student than students in other areas do, and that's wrong!!!