Wake County Schools

Grassroots group seeing improvement in Knightdale schools

Posted August 8, 2011 4:08 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2011 7:37 p.m. EDT

— The issue of student assignment in the Wake County Public School System has gotten national attention and triggered major changes in leadership.

In the midst of a heated debate over how students will perform based on where they are assigned to go to school, a local nonpartisan group of Knightdale parents, calling itself the Knightdale 100, has quietly pushed for change, and they say that they are starting to see results in student performance.

Schools in the Knightdale area have historically lagged behind other schools in the district when it comes to test scores.

"We thought we needed to look at the schools and see what we can do to help improve student achievement," said Kathy Moghaddam, one of about 100 parents in the group.

Knightdale 100 formed in 2009 and launched an information blitz by hosting forums and posting blogs about things like literacy and Algebra for middle school students. The aim is to get parents working with students, teachers and principals to help improve learning and test scores.

"Our parents didn't know that we were lagging behind," parent Catherine Dameron said. "They didn't know that we needed to step that up."

"Working together, we can focus on one goal and all be in accordance," Knightdale 100 member Derrick Burr said.

During a time of protests and contentious school board debate over changing the district's longstanding policy of busing students for community-based schools, Knightdale 100 has been relatively quiet and under the radar.

"There is not a lot of noise to be made," Dameron said. "It's just solution-based. How do we solve these problems? How do we support our teachers and our principals?"

It's an approach that seems to be working.

"Our student achievement has improved every year since this group has been in place," Dameron said.

Knightdale schools saw a 6 percent jump in end-of-grade test scores after the group formed. Superintendent Tony Tata recently credited the group with helping improve overall achievement.

Another benchmark – East Wake Middle School and Knightdale High School were two of only 10 schools in the county recently chosen to participate in a national program called STEM that helps prepare students for the global economy by specializing in curriculums focused on science, technology, engineering and math.