School test scores released, show results of new curriculum - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

School test scores released, show results of new curriculum

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State Superintendent June Atkinson presents last school year's test results. State Superintendent June Atkinson presents last school year's test results.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

The state released last school year's test results Thursday, and parents will likely notice significant drops in some districts from previous years.

Click here for data for schools, districts and the state

The READY Accountability results show how well students did last school year when the state began teaching a new curriculum for reading and math, known as Common Core. As a result, scores on end-of-course (E.O.C.) and end-of-grade (E.O.G.) tests are lower than previous years.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said teachers were not completely prepared for the Common Core, and that scores were better in districts that added the new curriculum earlier. She said schools will not be graded this year and students will not be impacted.

Atkinson said growth is expected next year and schools will receive a letter grade.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, a traditionally high-achieving district, met 96.6 percent of the 560 federal goals and 94.6 percent of the 947 state goals. Of the 27 achievement goals that were missed, 20 were for the Economically Disadvantaged Students group.

Look at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Results

"Our district's greatest challenge is bringing up the proficiency levels of our economically disadvantaged students," said Chapel Hill-Carrboro Superintendent Tom Forcella.

Diane Villwock, executive director of testing and program evaluation for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, compared the new standards to an amusement park that raises the minimum height level a person must be to go on a ride. A child that was once tall enough might not be anymore. It's not that the student shrunk, it's that the standard has been raised.

"Surely, it's a big drop. I think what you have to think about is if you raise how much kids need to be able to know and do in order to succeed on the test, then the first year you do that, then there will be fewer students meeting that standard," Villwock said.

The idea of Common Core, she said, was to make students more competitive with those in other countries and to better prepare them for college or a career after high school. The curriculum requires a deeper understanding of the material, more problem solving and less memorizing of facts, she said.

"We're really looking at these numbers as a baseline against which we plan to improve rapidly," Villwock said.

Next year, districts will be able to see how students have improved upon the new standards. Villwock said she likes to have three years of data to start seeing real trends in test scores.

Forcella said while the scores are lower than usual, they could provide an incentive to improve in areas where school systems had become complacent.

"In a way, this could be a pretty good wake-up call for us that there's always room for improvement and that to be successful in life there is a challenge, there's rigor involved and sometimes you'll learn more by failing than you do by succeeding," he said.

"Obviously, when we have more rigorous standards that compare favorably with the rest of the country, it really creates an opportunity to beef up what we're doing, to create curriculum that's more relevant and to provide different ways of teaching in our classrooms," Forcella added.

Villwock said she expects the state to give the district data for individual students on Thursday. The district will then take about a month to print out the reports and organize them to send out to parents. Villwock expects individual reports to be sent to parents after Thanksgiving.

Durham Public Schools

A majority of Durham Public Schools met or exceeded academic growth in the 2012-13 school year. In fact, 77 percent of schools in Durham met or exceeded growth projects, beating the state average of 71 percent.

Twenty-one out of 30 elementary schools exceeded growth, as well as 11 middle schools out of 13 and 11 high schools out of 12.

The data established a baseline for measuring student proficiency based on the new state standards including the Common Core, which significantly raised the bar for academic achievement and required new curricula in all grades K-12.

"Common Core and other new state standards radically changed the way our teachers teach and our students learn," said DPS Superintendent Dr. Eric J. Becoats in a written release. "We significantly raised the bar, and now we have a new baseline from which to grow."

Wake County Public Schools

Students across the Wake County Public School System demonstrated steady academic progress in the 2012-13 school year, according to results released Thursday.

The results show that 140 out of 165 schools met or exceeded expected growth during the 2012-13 academic year. Students met or exceeded expected growth in 11 of 15 subject areas by grade level.

The state also released fourth and eighth grade National Assessment of Educational Progress scores. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) found that North Carolina students are continuing to perform at or above the national average on NAEP's mathematics and reading assessments.

Fourth grade math results

Fourth grade reading results

Eighth grade math results

Eighth grade reading results

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