Friday, July 22, 2011

Graduation rate rises at CMS; overall test scores decline

State test scores declined overall for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools,
according to results released by the district recently, and the
graduation rate rose by nearly three percentage points.

The district showed improvement in seven of 22 areas tested, district
officials said. Scores rose slightly in math for grades four and
seven, reading in grades six, seven and eight and science in grades
five and eight. Scores declined in seven of eight areas tested for
high school students, and stayed flat in one.

Tenth-grade writing tests showed a slight decline, although CMS
continued to outperform the state in writing.

"We are disappointed that we did not make more progress this year,"
said Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh. "Although we are pleased
with the growth in our graduation rate, we would have liked to see
more improvement in specific tested areas. We will work in the coming
year to identify areas where we can improve."

The greatest improvement in district test scores was in science, where
scores improved by five points in grades five and eight. Reading
improved by one point in grades six, seven and eight, and math by two
points in grades four and seven (all calculated without including
retests). Scores stayed flat in fifth- and sixth-grade math and in
third- and fifth-grade reading.

High school scores declined in seven areas and stayed flat in one.
Biology scores stayed flat. The largest declines were reported in
Algebra I (eight points) and Algebra II (six points). Scores declined
in English I and History by three points, by two points in tenth-grade
writing and by one point in physical science.

The district's growth scores – how much more than one year's progress
was made in a year's time – also declined, although Hattabaugh noted
that the district was still making more than a year's growth on
average in all areas.

"These numbers are important measures of how well we're closing the
achievement gaps," Hattabaugh said. "We are glad to see we are still
making more than a year's growth on average, but we'd like to see
those numbers rise, too."

The state test results are also used to calculate the district's
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for individual schools.
Adequate Yearly Progress is part of the requirements of the federal No
Child Left Behind Act, which sets targets for school districts. The
targets increase periodically, with the goal being that all students
make AYP by 2014. The targets were raised in 2010-2011, raising the
bar that districts must clear. Using the increased standard, 48 of 171
schools in CMS made AYP, or 28.1 percent. That compares to 28.7
percent a year earlier.

The district also reported that 18 Title I schools were added to the
list of schools in improvement, meaning they did not meet AYP targets.
No schools left improvement status and none made steps toward exiting
improvement status. The total number of Title I schools in school-
improvement status for 2011-2012 is 28. Schools in the first year of
school improvement do not face sanctions; they are expected to
identify areas in need of improvement and work on them. In subsequent
years, schools must offer Supplemental Education Services to students,
and parents may opt to put their children in another school.

The full presentation of state test scores and AYP calculations is