ELIZABETHTOWN — With the recent release of the state’s accountability scores, Bladen County officials are taking stock of the district’s results.
“I’m really proud of what our schools have done — the principals, the teachers and the staff,” Bladen County Schools’ Anthony Hinson told the Board of Education at the Sept. 10 meeting. He added that despite the loss of some seasoned teachers, “… we’re still doing pretty good if you ask me.”
The district’s composite score was approximately 49 percent proficiency, meaning the system will not be considered low performing this year. In addition, more schools than not attained a letter grade of “C” or better.
The change was despite the teacher loss, and despite a change in the student population.
“We did lose a total of 150-plus students last year, and when we did comparison data, we did find it … was the higher achieving students who went from us to the charter school,” Hinson explained.
From 2014 to 2018, the district went from a composite score of 40 to its current 49, a growth rate that exceeded the state norm.
“I think that’s significant for a county like Bladen that doesn’t have the resources of others,” Hinson said.
One factor that may have contributed to the growth by the district, according to Hinson, was a switch in curriculum. In the past, the system used Engage New York, a program Hinson said didn’t align with North Carolina’s middle school standards. As a result, scores went from around 51 in elementary school to the mid-40s in junior high. After dropping the curriculum and implementing NC Check-in last year, scores immediately jumped to the upper 50s.
“I was thrilled to see that,” Hinson stated.
One down side on the state’s report card was East Arcadia, which received an “F.”
“This is where we have a situation where we have to intensify our efforts,” said Hinson, later adding that “part of the way we’re going to turn East Arcadia around is with initiatives funded with Title I.”
To receive a “C” or better, schools must score at or above 55. If schools score below 55, growth is taken into account, which, if it is great enough, can bring schools’ or districts’ scores up. Several schools in Bladen County scored lower than 55 on the test, but made enough growth to bring their scores above 55.
“I would love to see every school at or above 55 percent, because then we wouldn’t have to rely on other factors like growth,” Hinson said.