Scores are “mixed bag:” Replicating local successes key to growth

Published 8:14 pm Saturday, November 9, 2013

Seven of Beaufort County Schools’ 14 schools reached or exceeded academic growth expectations in the 2012-2013 school year, according to scores released Thursday by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The four schools exceeding growth goals were Northeast Elementary School, P.S. Jones Middle School, Beaufort County Early College High School and Southside High School. The three schools met growth goals were Bath Elementary School, Chocowinity Primary School and Washington High School.

Eastern Elementary School and John Cotton Tayloe Elementary School do not serve students in grades that receive growth data. For that reason, the state assigns the growth result of their feeder school, John Small Elementary, to both schools.

Don Phipps, superintendent of Beaufort County Schools, discussed the scores after the Veterans Day service at Bath Elementary School on Friday.

“I think they’re a mixed bag, which we expected to see the overall decline. I think when you look at schools like Chocowinity Primary School, our early college high school, Southside (High School), just to name a few, we’ve certainly got indicators of really strong performance. We have those in other schools, as well. Maybe not across the board as quite much, but we look at every grade level and every subject area and we see things that are going well,” Phipps said. “The indicators I see, our third- and fourth-grade students tend to be doing well compared to the state. I think that’s an indication to the strong focus that we’ve put in the last few years on early literacy. Our high school programs are doing very well. We’ve got to work on the later elementary (grades) and the middle schools to make sure we can continue the momentum we’re seeing early on.”

Phipps said the school system is ready to take steps to improve the scores. One of those steps, Phipps said, is taking advantage of local expertise.

“One of the things we try to do is identify the teachers in the schools that did exceptionally well and have them work with their peers, not only in the classroom but across the county, so that others that may not have done quite as well maybe will be able to pick up something from them and learn from their peers,” Phipps said. “We don’t have to do formalized professional development where we bring experts in from nationwide. We’ve got experts right here who are doing a good job. We want to find out what it is that they’re doing and try to replicate that in our other classrooms.”

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Schools and school districts have 30 days to provide individual student score reports for parents to review. Because standards were new in 2012-13, there is no impact on students or schools. There also are no school grades or designations during this transition year.

“A good example of what Phipps referred to as strong indicators is the fact both Bath Elementary School (K-8) and Chocowinity Primary School (PK-4) met all federal Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) proficiency targets in all subgroups,” reads a news release from the school system. “John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School (2-3) and the school it feeds into, John Small Elementary School (4-5), met federal AMO proficiency targets in all subgroups in math.

“Another strong indicator for Beaufort County Schools was the performance of students with disabilities. This subgroup met proficiency in reading and science and was only one target from making proficiency in math, again with proficiency being determined by the AMO targets. “

In the news release, Phipps said, “It is important to stress that the data from the 2012-13 school year cannot be compared to previous years’ data because the tests are new. However, we continue to look at the relative performance of our students, schools, and the school system in comparison to our system and the state. As we move forward, we expect scores to increase within schools and across our system.”


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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