More Wake County students passed state exams last school year, and the district’s graduation rate increased.
The passing rate rose to 67.9 percent during the 2015-16 school year, up from 66.8 percent the prior year. The Wake school system remains well above the statewide proficiency rate of 58.3 percent.
Most schools in Raleigh and northern Wake County saw similar increases in proficiency and graduation rates, according to statewide results released Thursday.
About 60 of the roughly 100 schools in Raleigh, Wake Forest and Rolesville posted higher proficiency rates in math, science and reading.
Wake also saw improvement on performance letter grades, which are 80 percent based on passing rates on state exams and 20 percent based on growth on those tests.
Seven schools in Raleigh and northern Wake received an A+ grade: Sycamore Creek Elementary and Jones Dairy elementary schools; Leesville Road and Raleigh Charter high schools; and Exploris, Endeavor and Magellan charter schools.
Wake STEM Early College High School, Wake Early College of Health and Sciences and Quest Academy received an A grade. About 37 schools in the area got a B, 42 got a C, and eight got a D.
Bugg Elementary School and Hope Charter Leadership Academy in Raleigh received the only F grades in the region.
Wake also saw gains in the number of schools meeting academic growth targets on state exams. Out of 167 schools, 68 percent met or exceeded growth expectations. That’s up from 61 percent the previous year.
About 62 schools in Raleigh and northern Wake met or exceeded academic growth targets.
Seven of the Wake school system’s 13 schools designated as low performing by the state are in Raleigh. The prior year, Wake had 20 schools designated as low performing. Schools are identified as low performing if they have a D or F grade and did not exceed growth targets on state exams.
The performance grades were mandated by state legislators who said that it would make it easier for parents to see how their children’s schools are doing. But the grades have drawn complaints from many educators who say they’re biased against high-poverty schools and don’t give enough credit for growth rates.
The seven Raleigh schools, all elementary schools, are: Green, Baileywick, Poe, Millbrook, River Bend, Walnut Creek and Bugg.
On Thursday, Wake County school leaders highlighted how the district’s graduation rate rose a full percentage point to 87.1 percent. The state’s graduation rate is 85.8 percent.
The school system’s goal is for at least 95 percent of students to be graduating by 2020.
At Sanderson High School in Raleigh, the graduation rate rose 7.7 percentage points to 89.1 percent. Enloe High School also made gains, pushing the graduation rate up by 7.4 percentage points to 89 percent.
Sanderson teachers and administrators said they were able to increase the graduation rate by identifying students early on who might be at risk of dropping out. They looked at students’ attendance, behavior and test scores in middle school.
The school also created a process to track down students who had stopped attending school to find out if they had graduated from another school instead. In the past, students who did not say they were leaving the school to attend elsewhere were counted as dropouts.
Another of the school’s successful initiatives was an English class for students who had low assessment scores but showed a lot of potential. During the yearlong class, students studied material that was more culturally relevant, said Jean Jett, a literacy teacher at Sanderson.
According to Jett, 95 percent of her students received their English 1 credit, and 41 percent were reading above grade level.
“That’s significant because if students do not receive that English 1 credit as ninth-graders, their chance to graduate drops dramatically,” Jett said.
Sanderson principal Greg Decker said the school hopes to reach a graduation rate of 93 percent next year. He said the key will be to create individual learning opportunities for struggling students.
“Sometimes some children through their behavior are hard to love,” Decker said. “You’ve just got to love them.”
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802; @ReporterCioffi
Four-year graduation rates
Numbers are listed as percentages.
Athens Drive High School — 2014-15: 83 / 2015-16: 84.8
Broughton High School — 2014-15: 85.3 / 2015-16: 88.4
Enloe High School — 2014-15: 81.6 / 2015-16: 89.0
Heritage High School — 2014-15: 90 / 2015-16: 93.6
Leesville Road High School — 2014-15: 91.7 / 2015-16: 92.1
Millbrook High School — 2014-15: 90.3 / 2015-16: 88.9
Rolesville High School —2015-16: 94.5
Sanderson High School — 2014-15: 81.4 / 2015-16: 89.1
Southeast Raleigh High School — 2014-15: 83.8 / 2015-16: 85.3
Vernon Malone College and Career Academy — 2014-15: 35.7 / 2015-16: >95
Wake STEM Early College — 2015-16: >95
Wake Early College of Health and Sciences — 2014-15: >95 / 2015-16: >95
Wake Forest High School — 2014-15: 91.1 / 2015-16: 94.1
Wakefield High School — 2014-15: 88.8 / 2015-16: 89.9
Raleigh Charter High School — 2014-15: >95 / 2015-16: >95
Longleaf School of the Arts — 2015-16: 55.9