2021-22 Test Scores Released
Alexander County Schools
Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis
Public Information Director 700 Liledoun Road
828-632-7001 ext. 212 Taylorsville, NC 28681
September 1st, 2022
Alexander County students outpaced the state on reading, math, and science scores this past year despite having gone through nearly two years of learning interruptions. Schools switched to remote learning in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. The September 1st release of scores show learning across the state is slowly rebounding. The most positive performance for Alexander compared to the state is high school math. The district’s fifth-grade reading proficiency was the only measure that was behind state averages.
In addition to proficiency numbers, the state also released growth scores Thursday for eleven Alexander County schools. Three schools, Alexander Central High School, Alexander Early College, and West Alexander Middle School exceeded expected growth. Two schools met growth, Alexander Virtual Academy and Stony Point. The rest did not meet growth as defined by the state.
State accountability directors discourage schools and districts from making any comparisons of the most recent test results to the prior years. While many students returned to the classroom, learning this past year was interrupted due to staff and student illness and Covid quarantines. Students took state tests during the 2020-21 school year but the state did not issue growth scores. Standardized testing was waived altogether in 2020. The most recent year with full data is 2018-2019.
Since 2013-14, North Carolina has issued school performance grades (A-F) based on two things, proficiency and growth for third through 12th-graders. The number of students passing counts for 80 percent of the grade, while the growth of students counts for 20 percent. If scores were based on growth alone, three ACS schools would earn an “A”, one a “B”, and the others would be a “C”.
State school superintendent Catherine Truitt says she questions whether the performance grades show the quality of schools.
“I shared the same concerns of many educators, parents, and others who have raised concerns for years about the fairness of the grades, but because of the pandemic, the 80-20 formula caused more grades to slip,” says Truitt. Statewide 864 schools are now identified as low performing, up 44 percent.
ACS Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Betsy Curry agrees with Truitt.
“This is more a testimony to the way schools are graded than the work of teachers and students,” says Curry.
The purpose of the testing, scores, and ratings are to gauge performance against state and national standards. Schools are required to test at least 95% of students. Private schools do not have testing or reporting requirements.
In the past school year, Alexander County Schools committed resources to stem the tide of learning loss caused by the pandemic. For elementary and middle schools, 339 students participated in after-school tutoring. The district also offered summer learning opportunities for first through twelfth grade students. More than half of those invited participated (349) in this summer’s camps. The district put on a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Camp early in the summer with 69 students participating. The Career and Technical Education department sponsored a popular summer camp for 28 middle school students and 10 high school students. The STEM opportunity was so welcomed that the middle school spots filled up within 24 hours. This summer the middle schools and high schools also offered Jumpstart, a chance for sixth and ninth-grade students to preview some of the work for the year ahead.
The district will not change its approach to learning based on the latest scores alone. Curriculum and instruction will still focus on engaging students in learning based on state standards. The system will continue to put in place best practices to help students get back on track. Alexander County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner says, “The pandemic may be over, but we will be feeling the effects of it for some time.”
A bright spot across the state and locally comes from some of the district’s youngest learners. According to state tests, more than 71 percent of first-grade students in Alexander County are on grade level in reading and nearly 66 percent of second-graders meet grade expectations. Both grades surpassed peers across the state in reading, and North Carolina’s results for younger students are better than their peers across the US. The state and district have committed resources to training all elementary teachers in what’s known as the “Science of Reading” to better help staff meet students’ needs.
More information about School Report Cards can be found at: https://www.dpi.nc.gov/2021-22-school-performance-grades
Prepared by: Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis, Communications Director/Public Information Officer