CMS shows some academic decline but tops state average

State ABC calculations made public Aug. 4 showed that academic growth declined from a year ago in CMS, but still outperformed the state average. CMS had 85.4 percent of schools making expected or high growth, compared to 94.1 a year ago; the state average dropped to 81.4 percent from 88 percent a year ago.

Overall, the district had 82 schools making high growth, down from 108 a year ago. The number of schools making expected growth increased from 51 to 64 and the number of schools with growth less than expected was 25, up from 10 a year ago.

The greatest improvement occurred in middle schools in CMS, where more schools made high growth and more schools made expected growth. Only two middle schools did not make expected growth in the 2010-2011 year, up from zero a year earlier.

In elementary schools, 41 schools made expected growth, up from 36 a year ago. Schools making high growth declined to 46 from 58, and the number of schools making less than expected growth rose to 16 from nine a year earlier.

Interim Superintendent Hugh E. Hattabaugh characterized the results as mixed, and said the district will work to improve them in coming school year.

“We don’t want to move backwards in any area. We’ve made great progress since 2006 and we will work in the coming year to get the district and its students moving ahead again,” he said during a media briefing about the results. “We think our pre-k-8 schools, as well as our initiatives such as Strategic Staffing, will help us make more progress in 2011-2012.”

Hattabaugh and other district officials noted that three years of large budget cuts have reduced the number of teachers and teacher assistants, which affects classrooms. But Hattabaugh also noted that the 2011-2012 budget, although still requiring cuts, did not have to make cuts as large as in previous years. Consequently, CMS will be able to restore some of the teaching and teaching-assistant ranks in the 2011-2012 year.

North Carolina defines schools making high growth as those where, on average, students make a year’s growth in a year’s time and the ratio of students making at least a year’s growth to those who did not is at least 1.5 to 1.

Schools making expected growth are defined as schools where, on average, students make a year’s growth in a year’s time.

Growth for each school is calculated using the end-of-year state tests in math and reading, and five End-of-Course tests in high school: English I, Algebra I, Biology, U.S. History, Civics and Economics. It also factors in the dropout rate in high schools.

The number of schools making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the federal standard required by No Child Left Behind, in CMS was 49. The AYP standard looks at the performance of subgroups as well as the school as a whole. The subgroups separate students by race, ethnicity and family-income level.

To make AYP, a school must meet all of its targets. Some CMS schools have fewer than 10 targets; others have more than 35. Eleven CMS schools made 90 percent or more of their targets.