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Formula for how schools are graded should be changed, according to survey results

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Participants in a statewide survey are calling for North Carolina to change the way it measures school performance.

A collaboration between the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and EdNC, an independent newsgathering website, the survey asked people to weigh in on the school-performance grades that are issued each year.

Of the nearly 26,000 participants, 90% answered that schools should be graded on other measures beyond performance and student growth; 87% said that there should be different measures of success for elementary, middle and high schools; and 72% said some level of standardized testing is necessary to measure how students are doing.

Just 14% agreed that the current formula should remain in place.

Of the respondents, 42% were K-12 teachers and 32% were parents, grandparents or guardians.

A school’s A-F grade is heavily weighted toward how students do on End of Grade and End of Course tests compared with academic growth.

Critics of the current system include state Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and local schools Superintendent Tricia McManus.

McManus said last month that other factors should be considered.

“There’s a more comprehensive approach to grading schools,” she said.

Survey participants agreed and said that school safety, school climate and the high school graduation rate should also be included in the grading formula.

In Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, 75% of schools met or exceeded growth, a number that the school district touted at a media event the day the grades were released. Statewide, 70% of schools met or exceeded growth.

But looked at another way, 35 schools or nearly 48% of schools in the district that were tested have been identified as “low performing.”

Low-performing schools are those with “D” or “F” grades that did not exceed growth.

Of those 35 low-performing schools, 29 met growth.

A state advisory group has been looking at ways to change the grading system, the state education department said.

Truitt called the results a “call to action.”

“There is widespread agreement that school performance grades should be more encompassing than just test scores and instead include indicators that more accurately reflect school quality,” she said in a statement.

The General Assembly must approve changes to the current grading system.

336-727-7420

@lisaodonnellWSJ

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