In 1976, progressive community leaders championed the unification of Raleigh city and Wake County schools to establish an environment in which students could grow and learn through both their similarities and their differences. 29 years later, the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) has evolved into one of the country’s most outstanding large school districts and has established a tradition of excellence, both inside and outside the classroom.
Reflecting its rapidly growing community, WCPSS is a large, comprehensive school system. Student enrollment in Wake County for the 2004-05 school year reached 114,092 — with 6,200 graduates comprising the Class of 2004. The region’s rapid growth leads to forecasts that enrollment figures will exceed 160,000 in 2020. Of its 134 public schools, 50 are magnet programs offering a wide variety of opportunities.
The growth of WCPSS has not come at the expense of academic excellence, however. During the 2003-04 school year, 91.1 percent of elementary and middle school students tested at or above grade level standards, and the average SAT score of 1063 was significantly above national and state averages.
Of WCPSS’s 7,452 teachers, 820 have been certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, the highest credential in the teaching profession. To earn certification, teachers must demonstrate teaching practice, content knowledge, and professional growth. Impact on student learning is the basis of all components of this certification.
WCPSS owes its success to the diligence of its teachers and staff, as well as the involvement and generosity of Wake County citizens. 539 individuals are members of Business Alliances supporting 18 high and 23 middle schools with business know-how, career fairs, training and job shadowing. Joining the business community are PTAs, faith communities and civic organizations dedicated to maintaining the strength of one of the nation’s strongest school systems.