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Wake County End-Of-Grade Scores Improve On Several Levels

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County schools' end-of-grade test results are in.

Although they didn't hit an important goal set five years ago, scores have improved on several levels.

As many students at Lockhart Elementary School enjoyed their summer vacation Wednesday, Wake County School Superintendent Bill McNeal gave a lesson on rising percentages measured over five years.

He pointed to end-of-grade test scores among third-through-eighth grades.

In 1998, fewer than 82 percent of students scored at or above grade level. This year, there was almost a 10-point climb to 91 percent -- four points shy of the school board's goal.

"There is no disappointment here," McNeal said Wednesday. "I am just elated to be in a school district where we can make that kind of sustained progress. I am absolutely elated."

The racial gap in students reading at or above grade level narrowed. White students improved six points. Black students jumped more than 20 points. Hispanic students improved almost 11 points.

In Math, black and Hispanic students both improved more than 20 percentage points.

Parents of Lockhart Elementary students in Knightdale say improved scores are a result of support from volunteers, principals and teachers.

"They get all the extra help they need," said parent Tammy Riggs. "The teachers are wonderful. They are there to support them in every way."

Detractors say the emphasis on reading and math comes at the expense of other curriculum studies. School system leaders say they work hard not to let that happen.

"But at the same time," said test evaluator Karen Banks, "we know if students can read well, and if they can answer the basic mathematics concepts, then they can succeed in other subjects like social studies and science."

Grade-level achievement is a standard set by teachers statewide. It represents the skill level students must meet to be ready for the next grade.

As student performance improves, that standard can be adjusted.

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