Robeson lags on schools report

Jaymie Baxley Staff writer

November 8, 2013

LUMBERTON — The statewide results from the first ever READY accountability report were released Thursday, and the numbers show Robeson County public schools trailing North Carolina in several key categories.

READY was designed to measure the performance of students under the more rigorous testing standards introduced last year. It replaces the state’s previous accountability model, the ABC’s of Public Education, which was utilized for 16 years.

More than 71 percent of North Carolina Public Schools met or exceeded academic growth expectations for the 2012-13 school year, while 23 of the 42 public schools in Robeson County — 54.7 percent — met or exceeded the new academic growth measures.

According to the report, 25.3 percent of students in Robeson County passed their end-of-grade or end-of-course tests. Statewide, an average of 44.7 students passed the tests.

In Robeson County, 37.9 percent of high school students met the new benchmarks for their ACT tests, as opposed to the statewide average of 58.5 percent.

Of the subjects included in the ACT, 22.6 percent of Robeson County students met their goals for English, 10.9 percent for math, 11.3 percent for reading, 5.3 percent for science, and 20 percent for writing. Statewide, the averages were 43.5 percent for English, 30.4 percent for math, 26.9 percent for reading, 20.6 percent for science, and 37 percent for writing.

Local officials cautioned not to read too much into the report, saying it provided a baseline.

“I think now what we have to do is to come together with our principals and curriculum leaders to see what the next steps will be to move those scores forward,” said. Linda Emanuel, the assistant superintendent or Curriculum and Instruction Public Schools of Robeson County, said in a statement.

The results showed that the four-year high school graduation rate for Robeson County, 85.1 percent, was slightly higher than the statewide average of 82.5 percent. Performance results are available at the state Department of Public Instruction’s website: Local school districts have 30 days to send individual student scores to parents.

Statewide, fewer than half the students in grades 3 and above scored in the proficient range on course-ending tests in reading, math, science and other topics. Only two tests out of 18 saw a majority of students rated proficient or better — eighth-grade science and high school English II.

A separate report released Thursday shows that North Carolina fourth- and eighth-graders are almost exactly at the national average in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“We know things are not where we want them to be,” State Board of Education Chairman William Cobey said. “We do believe that we are in a position to see a steady upward climb in the coming years and it will be to globally competitive standards.”

The report said seven out of 10 public schools met or exceeded academic growth expectations.

But student proficiency as measured by tests taken next spring will be the major factor in assigning new A-to-F grades to schools beginning next year, state Superintendent June Atkinson said.

State school officials have been indicating for weeks that they expected the data to show a much lower percentage of students considered proficient learners under the higher standards.

“When we raise the expectations it doesn’t mean students are not learning and that our teachers are not doing a great job,” Atkinson said. “The reason for raising standards and raising our expectations is to be a part of the solution of making sure that students are ready for options once they leave us.”

The READY report joins a host of other measures of how well North Carolina students are performing. High school graduation rates this year topped 82 percent, up from 70 percent six years ago. But almost two out of three 2012 high school graduates who went on to enroll in a state community college had to take at least one remedial course to cover necessary ground they didn’t learn in secondary school, the community college system reported last month.

The following are the end-of-grade test scores for public schools in Robeson County:

Deep Branch Elementary – 19.5

East Robeson Primary – 36.6

Fairgrove Middle – 25.2

Fairmont High – 21.2

Fairmont Middle – 21.5

Green Grove Elementary – 50

Janie C. Hargrave Elementary – 13

L. Gilbert Carroll Middle – 29.5

Littlefield Middle – 25.4

Long Branch Elementary – 34.8

Lumberton Junior High – 29.6

Lumberton Senior High – 20.6

Magnolia Elementary – 20.5

Orrum Middle – 28.1

Oxendine Elementary – 26.8

Parkton Elementary – 29.3

Pembroke Elementary – 28.1

Pembroke Middle – 25.9

Peterson Elementary – 21.3

Piney Grove Elementary – 24.3

Prospect Elementary – 27.9

Purnell Swett High – 20.4

R.B. Dean Elementary – 9.1

Red Springs High – 21.6

Red Springs Middle – 20.8

Rex-Rennert Elementary – 22.1

Rosenwald Elementary – 19.7

Rowland Middle – 42.9

Rowland Norment Elementary – 33.5

Saint Pauls Elementary – 16.8

Saint Pauls High – 23.7

Saint Pauls Middle – 27

South Robeson High – 24.4

Southside/Ashpole Elementary – 25.8

Tanglewood Elementary – 54.5

Townsend Middle – 13

Union Chapel Elementary – 25.8

Union Elementary – 35.6

W.H. Knuckles Elementary – 11.8

West Lumberton Elementary – 30.6

Staff writer Jaymie Baxley contributed to this report.