Vance County Schools – Information on Upcoming Release of School Performance Grades

Within the next two weeks, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction will be releasing student and school performance information for the 2013-2014 school year.

The information is based on state end-of-grade and end-of-course results for students in grades 3-12 for last school year. For the first time, the results will include five different levels of proficiency for students in the tested subject areas. The levels are designed to measure each student’s command of the subject materials and they include: Level 1 for limited command; Level 2 for partial command; Level 3 for sufficient command and proficiency under state standards; Level 4 for solid command; and Level 5 for superior command. Levels 4 and 5 also will include for the first time a designation that the student is college and career ready.

The 2013-2014 results also will include a School Performance Grade, ranging from an “A” to an “F,” as now required by the N.C. General Assembly. Eighty percent of this grade for a school will be based on the school achievement score (which includes students’ scores on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests) with the remaining 20 percent based on student growth from the previous year. Many schools and school systems across the state are anticipating low grades with this grading scale, which will be based upon a one-year 15-point scale aligned with the state accountability results.

Students in Vance County Schools achieve great accomplishments each school day despite living in a county where over 35 percent of youths under the age of 18 live in poverty. Only a small percentage of children attend pre-school programs and with this lack of early childhood training many of them begin kindergarten already behind in their academic skills. There are many homes that contain very little educational materials, including little or no reading materials, for pre-school or school-aged children. The county also has one of the highest crime rates and one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

“Our schools are a direct reflection of our communities,” said Superintendent Ronald E. Gregory. “Remember, communities come to school by way of their children. We all must do whatever is necessary to clean up our communities in order to give our children a fair chance at a better life. Children learn what they live and we (Vance County) can and must do better towards all of our children or we will continue to spend our tax dollars on crime and social services. We have the power to change our communities by investing in our children. We can do better.”

“Our students have made many accomplishments in spite of the real-life challenges they face,” added Dr. Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for Vance County Schools. “Our hardworking teachers and administrators will continue to work diligently to assure each and every student is ready for the workplace or the next level of education. We continue to improve in all areas of accountability, so please join me in thanking teachers and administrators for positively impacting the lives of our children.”

The N.C. General Assembly’s decision to require School Performance Grades does not measure the quality of education offered to students in our public schools, as much as it simply places negative labels on schools leading the local community to believe its schools aren’t doing a good job.

Students in Vance County Schools achieve at a high level each school day and each school year. For example:

  • Five local elementary schools met or exceeded student growth standards set by the state for the 2013-2014 school year;

  • A total of 59.6 percent of Vance County Schools’ classroom teachers had students who met expected state growth standards in 2013-2014 from the previous school year and 7.2 percent of teachers had students who exceeded expected state growth standards;

  • Students in grades 3-12 met 78.7 percent of all educational target goals based on state and federal standards for 2013-2014;

  • The STEM Early High School, located at Northern Vance High School, provides students in grades 6-8 with project-based learning with a special focus in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math to start them on the path to promising career opportunities for the future;

  • Over 95 percent of local high school graduates last year successfully completed Math III (Algebra II or Integrated Mathematics III);

  • More than 70 percent of local high school graduates in 2014 are attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges or serving in the U.S. military;

  • The most recent four-year cohort graduation rate for Vance County Schools increased by more than eight percentage points from the previous year and is expected to be over 80 percent for the current school year;

  • The school system’s most recent high school dropout rate was the lowest in history with only 3.82 percent of students dropping out of school;

  • Western Vance High School had a 100-percent graduation rate for 2013-2014, which led to it being honored by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for this accomplishment, and the school to date has graduated approximately 550 students who may not have otherwise received their high school diplomas;

  • The 2014 local high school graduates were eligible for $2.5 million in college scholarship funds;

  • The Vance County Early College High School has graduated students from high school and with two years of college credits to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete their degree work;

  • The new Vance Medical Academy, located at Southern Vance High School, graduated 15 students in 2014 who are certified as nursing assistants and qualified to work in healthcare facilities, while the new Fire and Public Safety Academy, also located at Southern Vance, has 51 students enrolled to receive extensive training in firefighting, CPR and first aid as the school system continues to establish programs to meet students’ interests and talents and better prepare them for the workforce.

To offer much needed services for the locally under-served youth population, the school system has established programs which include: a Child Nutrition program that for the first time this school year offers all students a free breakfast and free lunch each school day; school counselors, nurses and social workers to meet students’ needs; school volunteer programs where adults offer students additional help in subject areas and serve as positive adult role models; and partnerships with local churches through the “Backpack Buddies” program to provide identified children with non-perishable food items to take home and eat over weekends and holidays.

The school system owes special thanks to the United Way of Vance County, which through its “United We Read. United We Succeed” campaign with local schools, has given new books to all of our third-grade students to take home.

These support services are proving to help students to focus more on their academics and increase their achievements each day in the classroom.