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Schools show progress under state’s accountability model


By Justin Vick
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Seventy-seven of the 102 public schools in Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly counties achieved academic growth in 2007-08 as measured by the state’s accountability model, according to a report released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools had the best results among the area’s four school systems, with 28 of its 34 schools meeting expected or high growth for 2007-08.

That’s a significant increase over the 48 percent of schools that met growth in 2006-07 and less than 20 percent of schools that met growth in 2005-06, system officials said.

More than half of Rowan-Salisbury schools met high growth, including Bostian Elementary, China Grove Elementary, China Grove Middle and Corriher-Lipe Middle.

Superintendent Judy Grissom said the system would continue to improve academic achievement for all students.

Other school districts performed as follows:

• Cabarrus County Schools had 12 schools meet high growth and 12 meet expected growth.
• Kannapolis City Schools had five of its eight schools meet high growth.
• Stanly County Schools had 14 schools meet high growth and five meet expected growth.

Last week’s results also included area charter schools. Carolina International School in Harrisburg met expected growth, but Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer did not.

Growth is calculated by comparing year-to-year performance on end-of-grade or end-of-course tests. Dropout rates and rigor of courses are factored into high school results.

Unlike the federal accountability model of Adequate Yearly Progress, school populations aren’t broken up into subgroups, such as students with limited English skills or disabilities, which must also meet benchmarks.

Marion Bish, federal programs director for Cabarrus County Schools, compared operating under two different accountability models to playing a football game with two sets of rules and referees.

“You cross the goal line and one set of referees says ‘touchdown,’ and another set says ‘out of bounds,’” she said.

In Cabarrus County Schools, for example, only two of its 18 elementary schools (Coltrane-Webb and Harrisburg) made AYP on the math portion of the end-of-grade test in 2007-08. But 12 schools satisfied the state model. The six schools that didn’t missed growth by less than a point, Bish said.

Teachers, principals and other certified staff at schools that achieved growth will receive bonuses.

Certified staff will receive up to $527 for expected growth and $1,053 for high growth. Teacher assistants receive $263 for expected growth and $351 for high growth.

These amounts have typically been higher – up to $750 for teacher assistants and $1,500 for teachers at high growth schools – but the State Board of Education had to adjust bonuses since it received less money from the state budget.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s better than not getting it,” said David Fleischmann, principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Kannapolis.

Fleischmann said his impression of the smaller bonuses is that they don’t kill moral, but they certainly don’t enhance it.

Todd Parker, principal at Fred L. Wilson Elementary in Kannapolis, said teachers are probably disappointed but wouldn’t verbalize it.

“I just feel like our teachers would do it for nothing,” Parker said. “They are here to help these kids.”

• Contact Justin Vick: 704-789-9138.

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