Scotland graduations at all-time high

By Scott Witten - [email protected]

RALEIGH — Three public schools in Scotland County received an “A” or “B” school performance grade for the 2015-2016 school year, according to a report released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The report also showed that Scotland County had its highest graduation rate ever.

The Early College High School, based at St. Andrews University, received an “A” and Laurel Hill Elementary School and South Scotland Elementary, each received a “B.”

Last year, Early College was also the only school in the county to receive an “A.” Laurel Hill also received a “B” for the previous school year.

The school performance grade is a cumulative grade that encompasses a school’s math and reading test scores while also assessing how much a school has grown and if it met expectations established for it before the school year began. DPI releases the grades, along with graduates rates, annually.

This is the second year of the new performance grade standards madated by the North Carolina General Assembly that all schools be assigned “A-F” letter grades based on student achievement and growth. Each district school is also given a both a performance score and a letter grade.

North Carolina public schools in general fared better during the 2015-2016 school year than they had in the previous year, according to the report. Nearly a third of North Carolina’s 2,459 traditional public and charter schools achieved “A’s” and “B’s” for the year, while the proportion of schools receiving “D’s”and “F’s” fell to less than a quarter of all schools. Specific charter school grades were not included in the report.

“In a district where we are trying to grow, our growth is very strong,” said Rachel Burris, executive director of Testing and Accountability for Scotland County schools. “We had schools that grew 15 points in growth … which is huge.”

According to the report, seven Scotland County schools met expectations; one school exceeded them and three failed to meet expectations.

Six of the county schools — Covington, North Laurinburg, Scotland High School, Spring Hill, Wagram, Sycamore — received a “C.” I.E Johnson Elementary School rose its grade to a D from an “F” the previous year, according to the report.

School officials commended that accomplishment.

“One of the real celebrations is that IEJ is no longer an “F” school,” said Meredith Bounds, spokesperson for the public school. “We have no “F” schools in our district. If you overlay where your “D” and “F” schools are to a map of the state, you will see that a lot of your “F” schools are in economically challenge areas and we have many of those same challenges here.

“So for us to not have an “F” school in our district is very commendable. They worked really hard at IEJ and we’re very proud to leave that “F” rating behind.”

The overall four-year cohort graduation rate for the three local high schools — Scotland High, the Early College and Shaw Academy was 82.5 percent. That rate was 81.8 percent for 2014-2015.

“That is the highest graduation rate since the rates were tracked,” Bounds said.

The figure for Scotland Early College was 95 percent.

The graduation rate for Scotland High School was 83.3. percent. The report said the graduation rate for black students at Scotland High was 88.4 percent, above the state average of 85.8 percent. The rate for white students was 83.8 percent and Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 77.8 percent.

Shaw’s graduation rate was 62.5 percent.

According to a report from the Department of Public Instruction, the county’s proficiency rate for End of Grade is 55.5 percent. The state average is 58.2 percent .

About 52.8 percent of Scotland County students were proficient in math, 51.3 percent were proficient in biology and 42.6 percent were proficient in English.

Statewide, proficiency in math was 60.5 percent while 55.5 percent of the state were proficient in biology and 58 percent were proficient in English.

The state saw a slight increase in its scores, a growth that state Superintendent June Atkinson welcomed.

“Many schools face significant challenges in terms of critical resources and student needs, but these results show that hard-working educators are making a difference and that students are making gains in their learning,” she said.

By Scott Witten

[email protected]

Scott Witten can be reached at 910-506-3023

Scott Witten can be reached at 910-506-3023

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