Though last year’s recently released test scores show a definitive drop because of state-mandated, more rigorous exams, most Matthews and Mint Hill schools faired well, meeting or exceeding growth expectations.
But three Mint Hill area schools say they have more work to do. Independence High, Northeast Middle and Lebanon Road Elementary were the only schools in Matthews and Mint Hill who did not meet projected growth expectations, meaning students at the school are making substantially less progress than the state growth standard/state average, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website. Growth goals, which are set by each school’s standards, are based mainly on results of tests taken in previous years and measure whether a student has achieved a year’s worth of growth.
It was the first year for North Carolina students to take the new, tougher tests linked to the Common Core standards, replacing the end-of-course and end-of-grade tests from earlier years. The standards, which were designed to ensure students graduate from high school ready to enter college or a career, focus on higher-level, critical skills in reading, math and science rather than memorization. The new tests also required higher scores to earn a proficient rating or above.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools performance composite, or proficiency rate, of 47.2 – which shows how many students performed at or above grade level – proved to be a cut above the state’s rate of 44.7 percent. Called the Ready program, the new tests measure academic progress using standardized end-of-grade tests in reading and math for third through eighth grade and science for fifth and eighth grade. End-of-course tests were given for high school students in math I/algebra I, English II and biology.
At Independence High School, Principal Amy Dellinger said staff already has programs in place to help and support Independence students achieve efficient growth. While the school did not meet overall growth this year, Dellinger said algebra I students actually exceeded growth in math and met growth in English II, but did not meet growth in biology. While not meeting expected growth, the overall proficiency rate in biology for Independence was 49.2 percent, above the state average of 45.5 percent, and above the CMS average at 47.2 percent.
“That’s a little bit of the craziness of it,” Dellinger said. “The rigor of the tests has definitely increased. So what are we doing at Independence? We are definitely increasing the level of rigor in all our classes without a doubt and now we have targeted remediation to support our struggling learners.
“Do I think that’s great? No, but however, (our scores) are competitive throughout the district. We definitely want to always be competitive and continue to improve overall.”
At Northeast Middle School, Principal Alicia McCree said the truth is in the details. While the school’s overall proficiency rate sits at 36.2 percent and the school did not meet overall growth expectations, it did, however, exceed growth in eighth-grade science and math I results, which were both above district and state averages, McCree said in an email to Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly. The school met growth in reading, but did not meet growth overall in math.
“We did not meet overall school growth based on low growth in math,” McCree added. “This data is based on the new Common Core standards, which were more rigorous than our former EOG tests. Our school has developed specific strategies to support improvements in all content areas.”
Lebanon Road Elementary also did not meet expected growth. The school’s principal, Vincent Golden, did not respond to Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly by press deadline.