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Lincoln schools get mixed results on state scores

AMANDA SEBASTIANO
Staff Writer

The 2011-2012 ABCs of Public Education Accountability Report, which the state released Thursday, sheds light on graduation rates in Lincoln County and how local schools performed last school year.
Rock Springs Elementary and North Lincoln High received Honor School of Excellence recognition — the highest-ranking received through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s assessment.
Other county schools’ assessments varied widely.
The assessment was created during the 1996-1997 school year to hold schools accountable for educational progression of learning basic skills.
Each school is rated on Annual Measurable Objectives, whether or not it had improved, or grown, from its rating the previous year and the combination of the tests the students take in a school year and their performance on those assessments. Growth is evaluated by the students’ ability to perform at the same level as last year or better on End of Grade or End of Course tests.
Schools are categorized as progress, distinction, honor or low performance schools, or it could receive no recognition.
Honor schools are those that rank above 90 percent in proficiency, have a high growth rate and meet all of their AMOs, or goals for the year. Distinction schools are those that perform between 80 and 89 percent, which 12 county schools did, while progress schools must fall in the 60 to 79 range, where seven local schools were recognized.
No schools in the area received a Low Performance title, but two, Asbury Alternative and East Lincoln High School received no recognition.
Asbury struggles
Only 15.5 percent of students at Asbury performed at or above their grade levels.
Alternative schools scored poorly across North Carolina, State Superintendent June Atkinson verified, possibly due to environmental factors that may contribute to the children having to go to disciplinary-type schools, she said.
She encourages community and parental involvement in local schools, especially the low-ranking ones where children may not be getting that extra help they need outside of the classroom.
“We need to focus on who the student is and develop a personalized plan that incorporates technology to help them succeed,” Atkinson told the Times-News on Thursday.
“We need to keep in mind that the needs for them go beyond academic help; they have emotional, medical and social needs, too. We really have to pay attention to every single student, and that’s increasingly hard for schools who have fewer resources.”
Atkinson is adamant about focusing on individual students who are struggling and honing in on helping them understand why what they are learning in class important.
Lincoln County Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Elaine Boysworth and Superintendent Sherry Hoyle  are confident evaluations and assessments will help the school receive better outcomes next year, they said, once Tim Shiver, principal at Asbury Alternative, pulls his school improvement team together before the start of the upcoming school year.
Graduation rates
Lincoln County had a 86.4 percent graduation rate last school year, up from 81.5 percent in 2010-2011, and above the state graduation average of 80.2 percent this year. Considering the size of the county, Atkinson is pleased with area schools’ performance compared to the 2,531 other schools in the state, she said.
Graduation coaches are currently in place at Lincolnton and West Lincoln high schools, which Hoyle believes has helped more students graduate, she said.
Eventually all high schools will have the mentors, county officials hope. Hoyle also mentioned that the graduation improvement is a result of K-12 success.
“At each grade level, we are looking at what can be done to ensure that students get to the point where they are able to graduate and get the career of their choice,” Hoyle said.
Plans for improvement
Another plan to boost county scores next year is to develop school improvement plans to target areas where schools are lacking and need to improve, Hoyle said. Teachers are making plans on how to help their students learn the material throughout the year, rather than putting that extra focus near the end of the year, Boysworth noted.
School improvement plans are other tools Boysworth and Hoyle hope will help pinpoint trouble spots. The state-wide procedure requires the plan be re-visited every two years, however, Lincoln County examines it every year to see where things are with the students, Boysworth said.
Taking a step back and focusing on literacy in every facet, not just reading but also technology, science, math and other core subjects, will help the county continue to exceed previous performance levels, Hoyle hopes.
In comparison to other counties in the state, Lincoln is above the state average for most of the school performance measures, Atkinson said.
School assessments
Battleground Elementary, 71.0 percent performance composite, expected growth, 88.9 percent of targets, School of Progress
Catawba Spring Elementary, 88.4 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Distinction
G.E. Massey Elementary, 78.8 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Progress
Kiser Intermediate, 72.2 percent PC, expected growth, 82.6 percent of targets, School of Progress
Iron Station Elementary, 80.9 percent PC, high growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Progress
Love Memorial Elementary, 80.0 percent PC, expected growth, 92.3 percent of targets, School of Distinction
Norris Childers Elementary, 81.8 percent PC, expected growth, 94.1 percent of targets, School of Distinction
Northbrook Elementary, 75.7 percent PC, expected growth, 84.6 percent of targets, School of Progress
Pumpkin Center Intermediate and Pumpkin Center Primary, 84.5 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Distinction
Rock Springs Elementary, 93.4 percent PC, high growth, 100 percent of targets, Honor School of Excellence
S. Ray Lowder Elementary, 79.2 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Progress
St. James Elementary, 89.6 percent PC, high growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Distinction
Union Elementary, 76.9 percent PC, high growth, 84.6 percent of targets, School of Progress
East Lincoln Middle, 87.4 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Distinction
Lincolnton Middle, 78.8 percent PC, expected growth, 92 percent of targets, School of Progress
North Lincoln Middle, 87.5 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Distinction
West Lincoln Middle, 83.7 percent PC, expected growth, 95.2 percent of targets, School of Distinction
Asbury Alternative, 15.5 percent PC, no growth designation, 0 percent of targets, no recognition
East Lincoln High, 83.7 percent PC, no growth designation, 100 percent of targets, no recognition
Lincolnton High, 80.0 percent PC, high growth, 100 percent of targets, School of Distinction
North Lincoln High, 90.7 percent PC, expected growth, 100 percent of targets, Honor School of Excellence
West Lincoln High, 86.4 percent PC, high growth, 93.3 percent of targets, School of Distinction

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