TEASER Union Pines High School Students

Students in a hallway at Union Pines High School in Cameron. 

All three Moore County Schools high schools received B grades on the annual state performance rating for the 2018-2019 year, but several middle and elementary schools’ grades slipped down in the ratings.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction released its annual School Performance Grade accountability measurement on Wednesday. The state has assigned letter grades to individual schools on a traditional A-F scale, based on students’ scores on year-end exams, since 2014.

For the last school year, the 20 Moore County Schools assessed received eight B, eight C, and four D grades. Of the four schools whose letter grades changed last year, three fell a grade and one gained a grade — and the district’s tally of schools considered “low performing” doubled from two to four.

Highfalls Elementary and New Century Middle both fell from B grades in 2017-2018 to C grades for this past year. Elise Middle fell from a C to a D. North Moore High moved up to a B from a C the previous year.

Other schools receiving B performance grades: Pinehurst Elementary, West Pine Elementary, West End Elementary, Carthage Elementary, West Pine Middle, Pinecrest High and Union Pines High.

Maintaining C grades: Southern Pines Elementary, Sandhills Farm Life Elementary, Vass-Lakeview Elementary, Cameron Elementary, Westmoore Elementary, and Crains Creek Middle.

Aberdeen Elementary, Robbins Elementary, and Southern Middle remained D-graded schools.

Public charter schools are also subject to the annual state grading process. The Academy of Moore County, a K-5 school in Aberdeen, bumped up a grade to receive an A. Sandhills Theater Arts Renaissance School in Vass, now a K-12 campus, maintained its B rating.

‘Looking Deeper’

For elementary and middle schools, grades are based on student performance on standardized End of Grade tests in reading and math administered in grades 3 through 8, and in science in grades 5 and 8. On those state tests, a score of Level 3 indicates that students are appropriately proficient for their grade level, while a Level 4 or Level 5 score indicates advanced mastery.

The state issues grades to high schools based on End of Course tests in English, biology, and math, as well as performance indicators like ACT scores, graduation rates, and the percentage of students who score well on the ACT WorkKeys career aptitude assessment.

In the Class of 2019, 75 percent of Moore County Schools students who took the WorkKeys test achieved the Silver or higher level of proficiency. Of the Class of 2019, 81 percent self-reported that they received at least one acceptance letter to a college of university. Moore County Schools Career Technical Education students attained more than 3,900 industry-recognized certifications or credentials; a 134 percent increase from 2018.

In addition, Moore County Schools students earned credit from more than 2,200 community college courses through the state-sponsored Career and College Promise program. As a result, three students in the Class of 2019 earned associate’s degrees prior to high school graduation.

The district’s four-year graduation rate rose to 91 percent from 89 percent in 2018, remaining above the state average. Pinecrest and North Moore both saw 90 percent of students graduate in four years, while Union Pines’ graduation rate was 94 percent.

“We are proud of the continuing strong outcomes of our district that include graduation rate, CTE industry recognized credentials earned and college credits earned prior to graduation,” said Moore County Schools Chief Officer for Academics and Student Support Services Tim Locklair. “This demonstrates the strong leadership and work of our principals, teachers, and school staff in engaging with students and supporting student success. There are also areas that the district did not achieve at the level that we would like and we are looking deeper into the data to support and enhance continuous improvement in student outcomes.”

The district’s primary schools don’t receive their own grades, since students are too young to be tested, and alternative schools like the Community Learning Center at Pinckney are evaluated through another system.

Slightly Higher Proficiency

Schools graded D or F are considered low-performing unless their students also exceeded expected growth over the school year, which Aberdeen Elementary did in 2017-2018. But last year none of the four D-graded schools in Moore County Schools achieved that growth measure. Both Southern Middle and Elise met expected growth, but Aberdeen and Robbins did not.

Overall, two schools in the district exceeded expected growth: Pinehurst Elementary and Carthage Elementary. That’s down from eight schools in 2017-2018. With Aberdeen and Robbins, four other schools did not meet growth targets for the year: Sandhills Farm Life, Westmoore Elementary, West Pine Middle and Union Pines.

Statewide, 57 percent of students in grades 3-8 tested as proficient in reading this past spring.

New math tests were administered in 2018-2019 based on an updated curriculum, limiting comparison to the prior year’s results, but 59 percent of students statewide performed on grade level.

Districtwide, Moore County Schools students had a slightly higher proportion of students at proficiency at 61 percent.

At Moore County’s individual schools, most proportions of students who performed on grade level in reading and math remained within five points of the prior year with some exceptions. At Westmoore, 56 percent of students tested proficient in reading down from 63 percent the prior year. At the same time, the school had 51 percent of students perform at grade level on the End of Grade math test, up from 46 percent the year before.

At Crains Creek Middle, the percentage of students scoring a Level 3 or above in math rose from 44 percent to 53 percent over the last school year, and the percentage of students proficient in reading fell by about a point.

Elise Middle, which lost a letter grade, recorded similar proficiency levels in math from year to year, but saw the percentage of students proficient in reading fall from 49 percent to 41.

(1) comment

Kent Misegades

Conclusion: taxpayers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on government schools and their performance is in decline. Taxpayers are paying far less for charter schools and their performance is high and rising. Taxpayers are spending nothing on private and home schools and they are also turning out good results. Why do we continue with government schools?

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