Lenoir County Public School students showed dramatic academic growth and posted improved proficiency scores for the second consecutive year as indicated in state accountability test results released Wednesday.
“We’re certainly pleased with the progress as demonstrated in the student achievement data,” Superintendent Brent Williams said. “We’re proud of all our teachers, our students, our administrators and our parents who’ve worked together to make this a reality. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
Fourteen of the 17 schools, as well as the district overall, made gains in student proficiency, including all middle and high schools. Fifteen schools either met or exceeded academic growth expectations, an improvement from 2016-17 when 11 schools met or exceeded growth.
The superintendent sees the growth component of student assessment as the best indicator of a school system’s performance, since it acknowledges that not all students enter school or begin a new grade with the same level of readiness.
“As a lifelong teacher, I will tell you – and I think most teachers will tell you – that the more important measurement of student progress is growth because it takes into account where each student begins and where he or she ends and, of course, factors in the value-added contribution of the instruction and the teacher and the student and actual learning,” he said.
The state considers the student growth component when it assigns each school at School Performance Letter Grade but assigns much more weight – 80 percent of the total result – to test scores.
Under that 80-20 formula, six LCPS schools improved their letter grades, two more than saw improvement in 2016-17.
At the top of that list was Lenoir County Early College High School, which recorded the district’s first-ever A grade. Early College received a B grade in 2016-17.
“We worked hard for this last year, really focusing on instruction and student needs, and it’s certainly paid off. It’s exhilarating,” Diane Health, Early College principal, said. “We’re happy to know we’ve reached this milestone, but we’re already in preparation for how we’re going to do better this coming year. Getting an A doesn’t stop us. We are preparing to do even greater things.”
A C-grade school in 2017 results, South Lenoir High School posted a B based on 2018 testing. Pink Hill Elementary School also received a B. Eight schools received C grades, three received D’s and two, F’s.
The district’s four-year graduation rate jumped three percentage points in a year to 84.6 percent. That compares to a statewide rate of 86.3. Kinston High’s graduation rate zoomed from 79.5 percent in 2017 to 85.2 percent in 2018.
There’s room for improvement even with a historic high like the graduation rate, the superintendent says. “We’d like to continue to increase our graduation rate and continue to cut the dropout rate,” he said. “We’d like to improve our ACT scores across the board. Our proficiency continues to improvement, but we still need to improve at a more rapid pace.”
Student achievement in high school will continue to be a major focus for LCPS, according to Williams. High school seniors are assessed statewide through ACT and ACT WorkKeys testing. The ACT/ACT WorkKeys Indicator reported annually as part of accountability results shows the percentage of 12th graders who met either the UNC System Minimum 17 composite on ACT or Silver or better on the ACT WorkKeys assessment. LCPS’s score of 51.7 compares to the state average of 66.5.
“We know we have areas of improvement still and are currently working hard to move forward in those areas, and we will do that,” Williams said. “We anticipate at the end of this year, the current school year, we will not only continue on this pace but that all of our schools will meet or exceed expected growth and beyond that we will continue to excel.”