For first time, Durham Schools district has no low performers

For first time, district has no low performers

CorrespondentAugust 6, 2012 

Durham Public Schools boasted of an improved graduation rate and no low-performing schools for 2011-12 at a press briefing Monday.

For the first time in the 16 years since the state started using the “ABCs of Public Education” model for testing, Durham had no low-performing schools. The state defines low performing as schools that have less than half their students doing proficient, or grade-level work, and that fail to meet expected growth.

Durham had two schools – City of Medicine Academy and J.D. Clement Early College at N.C. Central University – earn testing honors.

There were 10 priority schools, meaning only 50 to 59 percent of students showed proficiency in reading, math and science testing. The priority schools were Eastway, Glenn, Lakewood, Merrick-Moore, W.G. Pearson and C.C. Spaulding elementary schools; Chewning, Lowe’s Grove and Neal middle schools; and Southern High School.

But school officials were excited about the district’s results.

“Overall it is great progress,” said Terri Mozingo, assistant superintendent for research and accountability. “There is a lot to celebrate. It’s a good day. It’s a great trajectory.”

The four-year gradation rate for 2012 rose to 77 percent from 73.9 in 2011 and 69.8 in 2010, and the five-year graduation rate rose to 79.8, up from 76.4 in 2011.

In the Durham Public Schools, 90.8 percent of white students graduated in four years, compared to 85.7 percent of Asian students, 78 percent of students of two or more races, 73.7 percent of black students and 64.5 percent of Hispanic students.

Five schools had graduation rates higher than 90 percent – City of Medicine Academy, J.D. Clement, Hillside New Tech, Durham School of the Arts and Southern School of Engineering.

Also, officials bragged that testing showed 100 percent of middle schools meeting “high growth” or “expected growth.”

Four schools – Holt Elementary, Y.E. Smith Elementary, George Watts Elementary and Hillside High – made gains of 10 or more percentage points in proficiency. There were 24 schools with gains of five or more percentage points in proficiency, and 45 schools made positive moves in their proficiency composites, up from 26 the previous year.

For grades 3 through 8, districtwide proficiency in science increased 7.3 percent, with math proficiency increasing 4 percent and reading 2.7 percent.

“The increase in science is terrific,” Mozingo said. “We’re really showing progress there.”

Top among areas identified for future improvement were algebra, where testing showed that students did not meet expected growth in proficiency.

This will be the final year for ABC testing. For the 2012-13 school year, a new statewide math and English curriculum is being implemented and new tests are being developed.

“Regardless of assessment, we really want these adolescents to do well so they’ll be successful in life,” Mozingo said.

Also Monday, Durham Public Schools released details on the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy to open at the Durham Performance Learning Center, 401 N. Driver St., to increase opportunities for students who leave school to earn a diploma.

Students will have a choice of morning or afternoon classes, with a combination of online and classroom learning, to get a diploma, and not a GED.

The partnership between Durham Public Schools, Edison Learning and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies will be provided at no cost to students.

“This is a unique and innovative educational program,” Superintendent Eric J. Becoats said in a press release. “With this new Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy, our school district will continue to advance our belief that every student – given the right tools, support and environment – is capable of exceeding expectations and completing a high school education. We fully intend to prepare every student to continue onto college, attend vocational school, or enter the workforce.”

Goad: mattgoad@gmail.com

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