North Carolina closed out its 16-year-old ABCs of Public Education testing program on Thursday showing mixed academic results.
More North Carolina public students passed state exams this past school year, according to newly released test results. But the percentage of schools meeting academic growth targets dipped slightly.
For the 2012-13 school year, a new statewide math and English curriculum is being implemented, and new tests are being developed.
For the 2011-12 year, 79.5 percent of schools met or exceeded academic growth goals on state exams. That’s down from 81.4 percent the previous year. State education officials said the drop was not significant.
On a more positive note, the passing rate on state exams given in reading and math in elementary and middle schools reached 77 percent, up from 76.5 percent. The passing rate on state exams given in high schools reached 81.4 percent, up from 79.7 percent.
The new ABCs report also showed that North Carolina benefited from a recent waiver from the U.S. Department of Education allowing relaxed standards for meeting No Child Left Behind, a federal program designed to hold schools accountable for the progress of all their students. Previously, all subgroups had to meet the same proficiency target on exams for the whole school to pass. Now subgroups have different targets.
Under the new standards, 46.2 percent of North Carolina schools met all their objectives under No Child Left Behind. That compares to 27.9 percent in the 2010-11 school year under the old requirements.
Locally, some school districts are touting their academic results for the 2011-12 school year.
Leaders in Wake County, the state’s largest school district, pointed to the increase of the passing rate on state exams to 82.1 percent in both elementary and middle schools. That’s a gain of 1.9 percentage points and 0.9 percentage points, respectively.
The passing rate also increased to 85.8 percent in Wake County high schools, up 2.5 percentage points. Under a change approved by state legislators last year, high schools now offer three instead of seven statewide end-of-course exams.
Wake school leaders touted the performance gains at several high-poverty schools such as Millbrook and Walnut Creek elementary schools and the four so-called Renaissance schools. Wake poured in additional resources, such as more money and technology, to help them.
“There are a lot of reasons to celebrate,” said Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata.
Barwell Road Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh, one of the Renaissance Schools, saw its passing rate rise 9.7 percentage points to 74.1 percent. The school also exceeded academic growth targets.
“If you put the focus on the children, the test scores will come,” said Sandy Barefoot, Barwell’s principal.
Johnston County school leaders pointed to gains in areas such as the district’s graduation rate and the number of schools meeting growth targets.
“We are proud of what our schools have accomplished,” said Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom in a written statement. “Our results are a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff, students, parents and communities.“