Education

Wake schools celebrate success; 'sea change' ahead

Posted August 23, 2012

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— Wake County schools celebrated academic achievements over the past year and looked forward to future challenges in an event Thursday night at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School billed as the "State of the Schools" address.

The nation's 16th-largest school system with 151,000 students has stars like Bright Gyiamfi, a Ghanian native who arrived in the U.S. knowing little English in 2006 but graduated from Knightdale High School this year with a full scholarship to Notre Dame University.

"There are so many students doing wonderful things supported by fantastic teachers and principals and staff," Superintendent Tony Tata said.

Wake schools posted gains in proficiency at every grade level and in all but one subject tested last year, and economically disadvantaged students, in particular, saw improvement.

"Our economically disadvantaged students are outpacing our economically advantaged students" in improvement rates, Tata said. "Why is this important? They have more ground to make up typically."

Still, he said, closing the achievement gap between income and ethnic groups remains a priority.

Board of Education Vice-Chairman Keith Sutton said that while at-risk groups made gains, their scores are still too low. "We are not happy to see students at a 50 percent proficiency rate," he said.

Wake schools fete sucess, face challenges

"We may have inched up on that, but I'm not going to pretend that we're where we want to be," Tata said. Middle schools, which posted the smallest gains on test scores last year, will be a target for improvement efforts, he said.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Wake County schools is the increased academic rigor of the Common Core standards. North Carolina is one of 49 states and territories adopting the national proficiency standards next year.

"It is a sea change in how we're doing business," Tata said.

Preparing students for Algebra I has been Wake schools' biggest focus while preparing for the Common Core standards, the superintendent said. According to research, students who are prepared to take Algebra I in eighth grade and earn a C grade or better tend to go on to graduate from college, he said.

Other goals for the school system include having all children reading at grade level by second grade and graduating more than 90 percent of students.

Additionally, a growing number of students need more space, Tata told the crowd. He appealed for them to support a bond to build more schools.

25 Comments

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  • ucdbicdb Aug 24, 4:23 p.m.

    Oh I consider it a privilege...that's not at all what I'm saying! I wouldn't have had kids if I wasn't prepared to raise them to the best adult I possible can. Why should I waste my time sending my kids to a school that isn't doing it's job? I wish I could afford to stay home and home school but I can't so I have to trust some of my kids education to the school system. All I'm asking is that a school get a passing grade and meet their expectations that they have set for themselves. I pay the same amount of taxes as everyone else in Wake County, so why should my kids have to deal with a failing school?

  • fayncmike Aug 24, 2:53 p.m.

    "I spend an hour or more a day with my child getting her ready for kindergarden next fall so I get that not all responsibilities will fall on the teacher or school. We are currently working on sight words, numbers, letters, telling times and writing so I am doing my part! Creech Road Elementary has continued to fail in grades and meeting expectations per the yearly report card submitted by Wake County. I am hoping by next fall we will live in another distirct and not have to deal with it!"

    It doesn't matter if the school is the worst or the best. As parents we considered it our duty and privilege to spend that time in study with our kids.

  • teach4er Aug 24, 1:55 p.m.

    I'm in favor of building new schools as long as the old ones have adequate and equitable resources. Typically the new schools get the latest technology (smartboards in every classroom, etc.) and the older schools have to fend for themselves. It really is a problem WCPSS doesn't talk about but should address.

  • Screw WrAl Aug 24, 1:32 p.m.

    'sea change' = your taxes are about to go up to build more schools we don't need.

  • ucdbicdb Aug 24, 12:28 p.m.

    I spend an hour or more a day with my child getting her ready for kindergarden next fall so I get that not all responsibilities will fall on the teacher or school. We are currently working on sight words, numbers, letters, telling times and writing so I am doing my part! Creech Road Elementary has continued to fail in grades and meeting expectations per the yearly report card submitted by Wake County. I am hoping by next fall we will live in another distirct and not have to deal with it!

  • fayncmike Aug 24, 11:33 a.m.

    ""How many hours a night do you spend studying with your child?"

    How many would you have her do to make up for an inadequately funded school system. Yes parents can help, but only up to a point......
    Crabbit Cratur"

    I don't know about anyone else but we spent whatever time that was required to be sure our kids understood their lessons. we all sat down together and usually spent about two hours a night going over lessons, home work and additional material that the school omitted.

  • teach4er Aug 24, 11:21 a.m.

    "Unfortunately, that means the low end doesn't improve and they dumb down the curriculum " conservativevoter

    This statement shows how little the poster knows about public schools- completely ignorant and incorrect.

  • rand321 Aug 24, 11:07 a.m.

    Why do we need to spend more money on schools when so many are under utilized???

    We should not spend more on new schools until we have maxed out what we have currently.

  • NiceNSmooth Aug 24, 10:55 a.m.

    Wake schools celebrate success

    lol.. But just a few days ago we heard how bad the schools in Knightdale are ... Knightdale is still Wake county?

  • Corporal Snark Aug 24, 10:49 a.m.

    SaveEnergyMan - EXCELLENT post. Thank you.

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