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More N.C. Schools Receive Passing Grades

Posted September 6, 2007

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— Statewide test results released Thursday show more schools across North Carolina are meeting standards.

Almost 72 percent of schools reported expected or high growth on the state's annual ABCs of Education report, up from 54.3 percent a year ago.

Forty-five schools – less than 2 percent of North Carolina schools – fell well below the state standards and have been classified as low-performing. About a third of those schools also fell into the category last year.

Powell Elementary in Raleigh was one of the schools that posted better scores this year. Test results last year showed Powell Elementary plummeting in math and writing.

“We took those results to heart,” said Principal Jimmy Sposato. “It was offensive to some degree to us as professionals.”

Some schools blamed lower test scores on changes to tests in math.

"You can rationalize a lot of things away, but the reason we are here and the reason this building is here is for student learning," Sposato said.

To post better scores, the school took a similar approach to what Ann Quarles taught in her class Thursday.

“When horses race, they put blinders on so they won't get distracted by anything,” she told the class.

That approach worked for the school, and test scores were up overall about 10 percent. Math was up about 17 percent, and writing was up more than 20 percent.

The school's strategy tested students throughout the year, instead of just waiting until the end of grade test.

About 45 percent of North Carolina schools met Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, this year, and state education officials blame that on the all-or-nothing scoring on the tests.

AYP is measured in each school in subcategories that include race, income and disability. If a school fails one of those targets, it fails AYP.

State officials noted that 62 percent of schools met 90 percent of their subcategory targets, and they have met with federal representatives to express their displeasure with the measurement system.

Graduation rates are also up slightly statewide, officials said.

The test results are tied to bonuses for teachers and principals. The state will cut $103 million in bonus checks this year, up about $30 million from last year.


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  • NCTeacher Sep 7, 2007

    Not So Dumb- I really don't think so anymore. I LOVE my job and I find it fairly easy. Until the people from Central Office get involved and that is when it gets ugly. All of their rules and "suggestions" are just more things that take away from my instructional time and preparation time. I have to teach things in an order that doesn't make sense mathematically. And I have to do it all while having 4011 meetings per week to review the same things I spent 4 years in college learning.

    And they tell me that it will "make me a better teacher" and that they "are doing this to find out why so many teachers are leaving the profession". Well, THAT is why. Let us do our jobs and teach. Kids will learn and everyone will be happy.

  • scorekeep Sep 7, 2007

    Don't worry, this will change next year as the state will declare the test "too easy" and make it way more difficult to show any growth.

  • poohperson2000 Sep 7, 2007


    I do not think there is a way to convince almost any this anymore. I feel at least 1/2 of parents are guilty of it, and they will never admit it.

  • Not_So_Dumb Sep 7, 2007

    NCTeacher - "I can do everything in my power to teach a child, but if they don't want to learn- they won't. And if their parents don't give them (and us)the support at home- they won't succeed in the classroom."

    Thank you for stating this. As a former teacher, I found the same thing. Is there anyway to convince the bureaucrats in the central office of this?

  • OhBella Sep 7, 2007

    the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."
    I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened.
    "I'm going to write my representatives and senator," he said. "I'll use the school analogy- surely they will see the point." He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.

  • OhBella Sep 7, 2007

    "Come watch me work," he said." Observe my processes."
    "That's too complicated and time consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure."
    "That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.
    "Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."
    "How?" he said.
    "If you're rated poorly, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly.
    "You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? Big help." "There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all." "You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score on a test of children's progress without regard to influences outside the school, the home, the...

  • OhBella Sep 7, 2007

    My more educated patients who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating actually is a measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"
    "I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted.
    "What's the DOC?" he asked.
    "It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved.""Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.
    The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?"

  • OhBella Sep 7, 2007

    "Also," he said, "many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off," he added, "so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"
    "It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. I couldn't believe my dentist would be so defensive. He does a great job.
    "I am not!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."
    "Don't' get touchy," I said."Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. "Try furious. In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse.

  • OhBella Sep 7, 2007

    "That's terrible," he said.
    "What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"
    "Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry."
    "Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."
    "Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele; so much depends on things we can't control? For example," he said, "I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem and I don't get to do much preventive work.

  • OhBella Sep 7, 2007

    The Best Dentist---"Absolutely" the Best Dentist
    My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups.
    He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth, so when I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.
    "Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said. "No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"
    "It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14,and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as Excellent, Good, Average, Below average, and Unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. It will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice."
    "That's terribl