Local News

Measuring Growth Key Component To ABCs System

Posted September 10, 2003

— The state's

ABCs

scores are out, and more students than before are performing at or above grade level.

Ninety-four percent of schools met standards for growth. Seventy-three percent met standards for high growth.

A lot of parents, students and teachers may want to know what the results mean as they sort through all the numbers.

The ABCs measure how well students are doing. This year, 80 percent of North Carolina students tested at or above grade level -- the highest number in ABC history.

The system also measures and rewards growth. No matter how high a school's scores are, there always is room for improvement under the ABCs system.

English teacher Tony Calabria was teaching his students how to put together a resume Wednesday. When he draws up his own, he can proudly say he received a cash bonus for teaching at Wakefield High School.

The bonuses roll out every year to schools that improve their ABCs scores. This year, more than 94 percent of the schools improved at the expected level.

"The best news is this: closing of the achievement gap," Gov. Mike Easley said. "Black and Native American students gained 10 points."

Gaining is a key component to the ABCs testing system. It measures achievement and improvement.

Measuring growth means a school with 35 percent of its students performing at grade level still can achieve high growth. It also means that a school with 93 percent of its students performing at grade level may not achieve high growth. That is the situation Durant Road Middle School finds itself in.

"We're sort of the victim of our own success," said Durant Road Principal Tom Benton, adding that 95 percent of his students were at or above grade level -- which was pretty close to perfect.

But just like plotting a course on a map, the ABCs expect schools to gain ground regardless of how far up they are.

"When you reach a certain level, it is hard to maintain that level every single year," Benton said.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are six schools across the state that were considered low performing, including New Century Charter School in Chapel Hill, Wayne Technical Academy in Goldsboro, Northern Nash High School in Rocky Mount and Northampton High East in Conway. An assistance team of teachers may be called into those schools to help make improvements.

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