ELIZABETHTOWN — The state of North Carolina released the data for its most recent round of student testing last week and the reality of new, tougher, more rigorous standards is hitting hard across the state.
“We’ve been preparing for the last couple of weeks knowing that test scores were lower than in the past,” said Bladen County Schools Director of Public Relations Valerie Newton.
The overall passing rate for Bladen County is 28.7 percent. By comparison, results around the region were mixed. In Cumberland County the passing rate was 40.2 percent; in Robeson County the passing rate was 25.3 percent; in Columbus County the passing rate was 31.3 percent; in Pender County the passing rate was 44.4; in Sampson County the passing rate was 39.6; and, in Scotland County the passing rate was 37.1 percent.
Now that the scores have been released, the school district has to send a report home to the parents within 30 days.
“As many have already said, these are not the results we want for North Carolina,” Tammy Howard, the state Department of Public Instruction’s director of accountability services told the Raleigh News & Observer. “This is not where we want our students to be. We want our students to make progress going forward.”
The test results are based on end-of-grade test results in subject such as math and reading in grades 3 through 8 and end-of-course testing in high school in the subjects of math, science, and reading.
Newton said that the district staff, based on past performance standards, was projecting a pass rate of 30 percent and the actual rate was 28.7 percent.
“We were a little less than what we had projected,” said Newton. “Even though the proficiency standards were down, and we all know why, we still had schools meet growth or exceed growth.”
According to the News & Observer, state officials are emphasizing growth where the numbers look more promising. According to reports, growth is the measurement of how much schools help students to advance year-to-year.
In Bladen County, two schools exceeded expectations for growth: Booker T. Washington Primary, with a passing rate of 34.4, and Dublin Primary School, with a passing rate of 35.9. Schools that met expected growth were Bladenboro Middle School, Bladenboro Primary School, Bladen Lakes Primary School, East Arcadia Elementary School, Elizabethtown Primary School, and Plain View Primary School.
Schools in the county not meeting expected growth were Clarkton School of Discovery with a passing rate of 41.6 percent, East Bladen High School with a passing rate of 21.6, Elizabethtown Middle School with a passing rate of 19.9, Tar Heel Middle School with a passing rate of 25.6 percent, and West Bladen High School with a passing rate of 28.7 percent.
According to the N.C. DPI website, “Students are expected to meet goals for progress. The goals are tailored to each school, based mainly on results of tests students took in previous years. Students are expected to show a year’s worth of growth, regardless of where they started and if they pass.”
Overall, Bladen County Schools met 63.8 percent of the academic targets set by the state and 68.7 percent of the targets set by the federal AMO.
“We have a better idea where we need to focus. We did well in the science and reading proficiency standards,” said Newton.
She said the math scores were lower than the district staff would like to have earned.
“Typically, across the state you will see districts that do well in one area and not so well in another area,” said Newton. “This gives us a baseline of where we are starting at.. and we’ll continue to work to grow.”