State News

NC graduation rates rising; student performance falling

Posted August 4, 2011

— High school graduation rates in North Carolina are up in 2011, but the number of schools meeting state and federal performance measures has dropped, the state Department of Public Instruction said Thursday.

The graduation rate jumped to 77.7 percent, the highest four-year graduation rate ever reported in the state, according to the DPI's annual ABCs of Education report, which shows how students performed on end-of-year and end-of-course tests in grades 3 through 12.

Last year, the graduation rate was 74.2 percent.

But the report also shows that 81.4 percent of schools met or exceeded their academic growth, a decline from 88 percent in 2009-10.

Thirteen schools are considered low-performing schools, meaning less than half of students scored at or above achievement level. Two were schools in Durham County, and six were in Halifax County, where the state began revamping the school system there two years ago because of past student achievement issues. The state expects to see progress there next year, officials said.

In Wake County, where 95.1 percent of schools met expected growth, 96 schools received special recognition for high achievement – the highest since 2006.

The reasons for the drop are unclear, state schools superintendent June Atkinson said, but might be a result of several years of budget cutbacks forcing staff cuts that result in fewer educators working with students.

"I do believe that these drops reflect the continued education cuts that we have had to make over the past three years," she said. "It is absolutely no secret that when state resources for teachers and students shrink, it becomes more and more challenging to provide every student with the specialized attention that he or she may need to learn at the highest level."

Nearly one-third of the tested North Carolina students in grades 3 through 8 were are not reading and calculating math at grade level, the state Department of Public Instruction said.

Scores show about 203,000 students in those grades out of about 688,000 who were tested are not reading in step with expectations and about 121,000 were behind in math.

The state's public schools have about 1.5 million students.

The report also shows that 700 schools, or 27.7 percent, met federal No Child Left Behind standards, with 1,830 of the 2,530 not meeting the federal Adequate Yearly Progress standard.

The AYP measure requires schools to meet specific performance targets for groups of students. Missing one target means a school does not make AYP.

The schools meeting AYP fell to 28 percent in 2011 from 58 percent last year, but school officials say that's because of more stringent proficiency standards implemented this year. If the new standards had been applied to last year, AYP would have been 28 percent then, also.

Of those not making AYP, 432 missed the target for only one subgroup in the school. The one subgroup that caused most schools to miss was economically disadvantaged students.


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  • chevybelair57sd Aug 5, 2011

    You can't expect teachers to raise,teach and feed the kids while the parents sherk their duty to encourage and guide the kids thru school and while we're at it how many welfare parents kids are getting 2 meals a day while their foodstamps go to nonfood items?

  • Dat MoFo Aug 4, 2011

    "Schools are dumbing down curriculum. An 8th grader in the early 20th century knew more than a graduating senior knows today.

    Can you provide any documentation to support this? I do not think you can.

    "Public schools used to perform very well. Public schools are dinosaurs and need to go the way of those dinosaurs.

    In 1960, 30% of students dropped out of high school. Today the figure is ~6%. Trouble makers and low performers dropped at 16 while today they stay in school. No suprise that the overall performance of students has dropped as a result.

  • Mean Old Mom Aug 4, 2011

    So at least when they get their diploma, they can get a job as a custodian.....then again maybe not!

    Go Private or Go Homeschool.....

  • BrightLight Aug 4, 2011

    I have a question for the educational establishment. Is the goal excellence in education or is the goal education in excellence?

    I have a question for parents. Should the kids have more book and less facebook?

  • BrightLight Aug 4, 2011

    When the education system fails to educate the kids, dumb down the education system. When dumbing down the education system fails, let the teachers help the kids pass the tests, you know, like they did in the Atlanta school system.

  • bowslinger70 Aug 4, 2011

    IT Doesn't appear that Having smaller classes and more Teachers is working. Parents need to get back into teaching their children and working wioth them on their Homework. NAH that ain't gonna' happen !!

  • truthinadvertising Aug 4, 2011

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but some people are just uninformed.

    I love the comments about "just throw more money" at education. Someone please check, but I am pretty sure that NC ranks in the low 40's (out of 50 states) in per pupil expenditure. I think the same is true for teacher pay. I guess it is a relative term to say that we are "throwing money" at the problem.

    NCLB/AYP...of course schools don't pass it. It is not just NC schools that aren't passing it. Students are placed into subgroups. Some students appear in multiple groups. If one subgroup doesn't pass, then the school is considered "failing". Please show me any point in history in any form of education that ALL students excelled and graduated.

    Public schools are asked to do more now than they where in the past, and more than private schools do. Parenting is lacking in this country. All you have to do is go to a mall or restaurant to see that. Someone commented on it, but Wake Co. has just made it

  • RM24 Aug 4, 2011

    "Plenty Coups, you're fighting a losing battle here. You're trying to make sense to quite a few people on this site that are graduates of the same failing system they complain about."

    LOL. Yes, some aren't really interested in the truth, they just want to justiy not having to pay taxes.
    Plenty Coups

    Dont worry with they way the stock markets going plenty of people are going to lose money today. Again, change you can count on.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 4, 2011

    "Public school should help all children master the basics and be held accountable, but many students may never maximize their potential because of a system that is so narrowly focused on passing one test and that to me is a problem."

    The real problem is multiple shots. There should be one shot like there used to be. The tests used to happen very close to the end of the school year. There was no RETESTING. What you are really telling me is a FAILING system is trying to manipulate the results and make them look better that they actually are.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 4, 2011

    "Because it becomes a collective pass or fail for the entire school/district and the emphasis is placed on students that aren’t retaining the material tested in the EOG."

    Yes Jervin, you're 100% correct. Too much time and resources are spent on trying to reach EVERY student instead of challenging those who need it. I doubt the public knows that more than a month is wasted on the testing process. No learning during that time period. Over a month!