10/06/06 — Goldsboro, Rosewood high schools' ABC progress falls short

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Goldsboro, Rosewood high schools' ABC progress falls short

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 6, 2006 1:53 PM

Initial results are in for the high school ABCs, with three of five schools in Wayne County meeting expected growth, officials announced today.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released the results for high schools with grades 9-12. Spring Creek High School and the alternative schools were not included in this round of announcements.

As for the other area schools, Southern Wayne, Eastern Wayne and Charles B. Aycock high schools achieved "expected growth" status, while Goldsboro and Rosewood schools did not.

Southern Wayne, which met both "expected growth" and "high growth," had a composite score of 77.2 Eastern Wayne's score was also 77.2. Aycock's performance composite was 74.

Rosewood's performance composite was 73.1. Goldsboro's score was listed at 52.8.

The preliminary results were in line with the state trend, said Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability and student services.

"This year, new accountability formulas have changed how growth is measured and the integration of end-of-course tests scores for U.S. history, civics/economics and writing have lowered performance composites for most high schools across the state," he explained.

At the high school level, ABCs performance composites are now aggregated from the state's 10 end-of-course tests and the new sophomore writing test. Course areas include algebra I and II, biology, chemistry, civics/economics, English I, geometry, physics, physical science and U.S. History.

Because of the changes to the testing areas and the new growth formulas, McFadden said, it is not valid to compare this year's scores to those from past years.

"If you were to remove the three new tests from the results and used only the scores from the tests taken the previous year, you'd find the performance composites to be very different," he said. "For instance, Eastern Wayne's performance composite would be 85.5, Goldsboro High's performance composite would be 59.4, and Rosewood High's performance composite would be 83.6."

Despite the changes to the ABCs accountability model, Wayne County Public Schools continues to show gains in academic performance, officials added. According to the statewide percentages released, the percent of proficient scores for the state was 71.1 percent as compared to Wayne County's proficiency, which was 72.9 percent.

One of the challenges in the area of testing concerns the rising number of exceptional students. In Wayne County Public Schools, the number of students identified as exceptional children rose from 1,767 in 1991-92 to 2,995 for the 2005-06 school year. Dramatic growth in the county's Hispanic and Asian populations has also increased the school system's English as a Second Language needs over the last decade.

The number of low-wealth students, many who might lack access to the same educational resources as other students, has also grown in the county. Officials estimate there are 58 percent of students in the schools that are on free or reduced lunch, up from 47 percent five years ago.

Efforts are being made by educators and individual schools to meet the needs of all the students, Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said. The school system utilizes computer labs with technology in reading and math, provides tutoring before, during and after school, and offers other enhancements to produce better test scores, he said.

"Our staff works diligently to review test data to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses to help tailor teaching to the particular students' needs as part of their school improvement plans," Taylor said.

In recent years, high schools like Goldsboro have offered Freshman Academy, after school tutorials, in-class tutors, Saturday Academies and staff development for teachers, which have produced steady gains in student performance, officials said.

Even so, Taylor said the local school system will not be satisfied with test scores until every student performs at 100 percent.

"There are many challenges our students face, but we believe every student can succeed," he said. "Our administrators, teachers and students are working hard and these ABCs results reflect tremendous gains made over the past decade for our high school students."

This week's results did not include Spring Creek or the district's two alternative schools, Belfast and Southern Academy, because they had grades other than 9-12.

The Department of Public Instruction has tentatively set Nov. 1 as the release date of its next round of results, which will cover elementary and middle schools.