Looking at student assignment and student achievement in Knightdale’s schools

10/24/2013 9:00 AM

10/23/2013 7:13 PM

Student assignment and student achievement in area schools were the first areas that the Knightdale Area Education Work Group focused on Tuesday.

As noted in Wednesday’s article, Laura Evans and Brad McMillen gave 15-minute presentations on both topics at the group’s first meeting. The presentations left the group members feeling better in some areas and feeling worse in others.

The recent curriculum audits had raised concerns about the student assignment patterns for Hodge Road Elementary and East Wake Middle. For instance, the audits said both schools have so many children attending who live far from the campus that it was making it hard to get parental engagement.

One of the points of contention in Knightdale is that many children don’t go to the schools in town. The percentage of 50 percent has been often cited.

Evans, senior director of student assignment, talked about the number of base students going and not going to Forestville Road, Hodge Road, Knightdale and Lockhart elementary schools, East Wake Middle and Knightdale High School.

Follow along on by clicking here and here for the handout.

It shows that the percentage of base students not going to each elementary school is 46.01 percent at Hodge Road, 40.2 percent at Lockhart, 52.2 percent at Knightdale and 31.2 percent at Forestvile. The countywide average is 38.8 percent with it ranging from 10 percent to 81.9 percent at the different elementary schools.

Evans said 29 elementary schools have a higher percentage going out of base than Hodge Road, 44 have a higher percentage than Lockhart, 12 have a higher percentage than Knightdale and 68 have a higher percentage than Forestville.

The out-of-base percentage at East Wake Middle is 42.7 percent. There are 11 middle schools higher than East Wake. Countywide, it’s 38.5 percent with the figures ranging from 14 percent to 58.4 percent ta the middle schools.

The out-of-base percentage at Knightdale High is 39.3 percent with only one high school having a higher percentage. Countywide, the average is 22.4 percent with ranges of 12.2 percent to 51.9 percent at the high schools.

Evans then attempted to show that a noticeable chunk of the Knightdale students are still staying in Eastern Wake even if they’re not going to their base school.

Evans said 22.2 percent of Hodge Road base students who are opting out are going to other schools in Eastern Wake, mostly for a calendar match. You’ve also get 16.2 percent opting out of the base for Raleigh magnet schools.

Evans said the equivalent percentage opting out of Lockhart’s base to stay in Eastern Wake is 31.3 percent.

Evans then walked through the example of who is going in and opting out of Hodge Road.

Of the 626 students now at Hodge Road, 522 are from the base with 104 coming from other schools.

For instance, Evans said Hodge Road gets 10 students from Partnership Elementary’s base because the bases for both schools touch. She said those students might have been grandfathered from a prior assignment plan.

Evans then focused on where the 447 students opting out of Hodge Road’s base are going. She said the 50 going to Forestville and the 107 going to Knightdale are doing so because they’re the traditional-calendar options for families who don’t want Hodge Road’s year-round calendar.

Evans said the 37 opting out of Hodge for Bugg Elementary may be doing so because it’s the closest downtown Raleigh magnet.

Evans added that the reason for transfers out of schools varies, later elaborating that it includes things such as child care, bell schedules and where parents work.

Members of the work group then wrote down questions that were submitted to Evans.

One questioner asked about the “doughnut hole” in the middle of East Wake Middle’s attendance area. Evans explained that when the Knightdale schools were converted to year-round and Wendell Middle School opened on a traditional calendar it led to the first major reassignment in that area in many years.

Evans said they aligned the year-round schools with a middle school on the same calendar – East Wake Middle. She said the doughnut hole represents Knightdale and Forestville elementary schools, which were assigned to Wendell Middle to keep them all on the traditional calendar.

Several people asked and got the answer that Wake’s figures are only for those enrolled in the district. This means Wake doeent’ know how many Knightdale students are opting for private schools, charter schools or home schooling.

School board member Tom Benton asked if there’s a way to figure out how many Knightdale children are going to those alternative school options. Evans said they can check but they won’t have any info on a student who never enrolled in the district.

Moving on to student achievement, click here for this handout from McMillen, director of data and research.

Since the 2012-13 figures won’t be released by the state until November, McMillen presented data for 2009-10 through 2011-12.

McMillen described the overall proficiency rates for the four Knightdale elementary schools as “mixed,” with Forestville above the county average and Lockhart a few percentage points below. The gap was wider between the county and Hodge Road and Knightdale.

But when you look at the proficiency rates with economically disadvantaged students, McMillen said the picture was almost “flipped.” For instance, Forestville is 14 percentage points above the county average. Lockhart is also above the county average while Knightdale is just a point below and Hodge Road again is lagging.

McMillen said you can see a similar pattern in which the four schools are doing as well as if not better with students with disabilities than the county.

But the situation reverses when you look at non-ED students and students without disabilities. ‘

McMillen said the same pattern in proficiency rates can be seen with the growth rates on the state exams.

“Some of our eastern wake schools are doing better with our underachieving populations,” McMillen said.

But a red flag is that the growth rate for the academically and intellectually gifted students at the four Knightdale schools was lower than the county average.

Like with the elementary schools, McMillen said the picture at East Wake Middle becomes more complex and more interesting when you go beyond the overall results to look at the disaggregated data.

For instance, East Wake Middle’s overall proficiency rate is below the county average. But the school is doing slightly better with ED students.

McMillen said the growth rates for groups who are struggling to reach proficiency are better at the school than the county average. But again, the growth rate for AIG kids was below the county average.

The picture was a lot bleaker when McMillen talked about Knightdale High. The proficiency and growth rates on state exams, both overall and disaggregated, are below the county average.

In terms of Advanced Placement courses offered, McMillen said the 14 at Knightdale High are in line with other schools, such as Sanderson and Southeast Raleigh high schools. But only the four individual small high schools that make up East Wake High have a lower enrollment in the AP courses than Knightdale High.

McMillen also pointed to how Knightdale High’s graduation rate is a little below the county average but the dropout rate is higher than the county average. The school’s dropout rate is also higher than the state average.

Looking at the percentage of juniors at each high school who scored at least a 17 to be considered proficient on the ACT exam, Knightdale High’s 44 percent was lower than all but two schools in the district.

Summing it up, McMillen said some questions to ponder include why the positive trends are not tracking to the upper grades in town.

During the Q&A, McMillen was asked why Lake Myra Elementary School wasn’t listed. He answered that it wasn’t one of the schools they were asked to include.

With so many schools having a large number of limited English proficient students, McMillen was asked why he didn’t include them in the presentation. He answered that in order to keep the presentation to 15 minutes he had to leave some things out.

The meeting ended with each table being asked to present strengths and concerns based on the presentations.

In terms of assignment, one group cited as a strength that non-education concerns seem to be the reason why Knightdale children weren’t going to their base school. Another cited how it seemed that a lot of students who weren’t going to their base were still staying in town.

Assignment weaknesses included magnet schools drawing students from eastern Wake and that it’s hard to get community buy-in for East Wake Middle when the area right around the school isn’t assigned to it.

In terms of achievement, multiple groups pointed to the good academic trends at the elementary schools and how they seemed to be doing a better job than the rest of the district in serving struggling students.

But a concern raised by multiple groups is why the AIG students aren’t doing as well as the rest of the county. One group asked whether it might be a case of hindering one group to help another.

Different groups also raised concerns about the academic picture at Knightdale High.


The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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