ELIZABETHTOWN — At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, board members heard for the first time district staffs’ response to the school system’s report cards.
Earlier this month, the state released testing and accountability reports, otherwise known as report cards, for each district and school. Monday night, Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor presented to the board his take on how the district fared.
“I’m happy to report we had a tremendous amount of growth,” Taylor commented.
For the first time, Taylor said, a school earned a B, a feat accomplished by Clarkton School of Discovery. Taylor also pointed out that two other schools — Bladen Lakes Primary and West Bladen — were only one point away from Bs. In addition, Elizabethtown Primary and Bladenboro Middle School improved their grades and earned Cs for the first time, and the district saw no schools with Fs.
Two of the district’s schools — Booker T. Washington and Elizabethtown Middle — could possibly be considered low-performing, Taylor said, meaning they received a D and did not meet expected growth. He was quick, however, to provide a caveat.
“This is where we have difficulty accepting how the state comes up with the statuses,” he remarked. “If you recall, (Elizabethtown Middle School) had 26-27 percent proficiency two or three years ago, and that increased to 46 percent last year, and we’re now at 54 percent and one point from a C school. But because they didn’t meet expected growth, it’s low-performing.
“We’re proud of the work they have done and want to continue to push the envelope.”
Taylor also identified areas the school system could see improvement. The district’s college readiness as measured by the ACT remains low, at 36.5 percent proficiency. Middle school math sees a drop from 51.3 percent proficiency in fifth grade to 30.6 percent in eighth grade.
Additional challenges face the school system in the coming years, thanks to changes to the accountability system. Previously, and reflected in this year’s scores, middle school students taking Math I scores had those scores banked, but in the future, no double testing will be allowed.
The state is also changing its grading scale. Currently, districts and schools are scored on a 15-point scale, but the state is moving to a process that differentiates grades by 10 points.
“A school may be at 55 percent is currently a C school — that will not be the case anymore,” Taylor commented.
Overall, Taylor said he was pleased with the district’s results.
“There’s a lot of work being done,” he said. “We’re not complacent — we want to see 13 A schools, but the way the system is set up, it’s difficult to move up the ladder, but we have done a tremendous amount of work.
“We’ve come a long way in the past few years, and the goal is to push the envelope and continue to do things to make students successful.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.