Chocowinity school earns School of Distinction status

Published 2:47 pm Sunday, August 30, 2009

By Staff
Only county school to earn a top mark for achieving goals
Staff Writer
Chocowinity Primary School was one of some 630 schools statewide to earn a top designation this year from an N.C. Department of Public Instruction report on school performance goals, The ABCs of Public Education.
The school earned a School of Distinction designation with more than 85 percent of its students scoring acceptable passing scores on end-of-grade tests, according to the state report. It is the only Beaufort County school to earn one of the state’s top designations under the report and has earned a top designation for six of the past nine years.
The ABC’s report is based on several measures of performance. These include reading and mathematics end-of-grade tests in the third through eighth grades; science end-of-grade tests in grades five and eight, and end-of-course tests in Algebra I, Algebra II, biology, chemistry, civics and economics, English I, geometry, physical science, physics and U.S. history.
The report also measures “growth” or the expectation that an individual student performs as well, or better, on the end-of-grade tests for the current year as she or he did, on average, during the previous two years.
Patrick Abele, executive director for learning services for Beaufort County Schools, said in an interview Thursday the system is making improvements in its performance scores, but it still has work to do.
“The good news is that we have no low-performing schools in the district,” he said.
The ABC’s report is one tool that educators use to give them “a quick snapshot of where we are as a whole,” Abele said. “We will continue to look at performance at the grade and subject level. That’s how we’ll get a better idea of how we’re doing.”
Seven Beaufort County schools received the School of Progress designation for which at least 60 percent of their students’ scored at or above an acceptable passing on end-of-grade or end-of-course tests: Bath Elementary School at 79.8 percent, Beaufort County Early College High School at 76.4 percent, John C. Tayloe Elementary at 68.7 percent, Northeast Elementary School at 69.3 percent, P.S. Jones Middle School at 67.1 percent and Washington High School at 66.7 percent. Eastern Elementary School students are not tested, but because its students move to John Cotton Tayloe Elementary School, it receives the same designation.
Four Beaufort County schools received a no-recognition designation. Those schools did not make their expected growth standards but have at least 60 percent of their students’ scores at or above an acceptable passing grade: Chocowinity Middle School at 73.5 percent, John Small Elementary at 61.6 percent, Northside High School at 64.1 percent and Southside High School at 69.6 percent.
One Beaufort County school received designation as a priority school. That school, S.W. Snowden Elementary School, at 54.1 percent, had less than 60 percent of its students’ scores at or above an acceptable passing grade.
Three Beaufort County Schools — Chocowinity Middle, John Small Elementary and Southside High School — did not meet expected growth standards, according to the report.
The Beaufort County Ed Tech Center was not given an ABC ranking, but it did achieve acceptable-growth status.
Statewide, the number of North Carolina public schools earning the state’s top school designations under the ABC report more than doubled. Statewide results showed that 117 schools earned the state’s top designation of Honor School of Excellence, nine schools were Schools of Excellence and 502 schools were Schools of Distinction.
(Those statewide results were an improvement over last year, in large part, because the state required elementary and middle schools to use results from students who passed standardized tests a second time after failing the first time, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction
About 37 percent of students across the state took a reading retest, about 25 percent took a math retest and about 40 percent took a science retest. Statewide, the retests helped improve the schools’ passing rates by about 9 percent, according to the department.)
The ABCs of Public Education began in the 1996-97 school year as North Carolina’s primary school-improvement program, providing the state’s first school-level accountability system and generating information that has allowed North Carolina to better target school-improvement efforts.
This year, because of the state’s budget shortfall, teachers, principals, teacher assistants and others will not receive ABC incentive awards, according to the department.