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Hidden Valley Elementary School principal shares goals for improving students’ literacy, meeting academic goals

In 2019 82.6 percent of students met their academic growth standards.
From 2014 -2019 Hidden Valley Elementary School averaged a “D” rating, but data shows the students are either meeting or exceeding their academic growth.
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 8:35 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Daniel Gray is the principal at Hidden Valley Elementary School - he’s on a mission to make sure all 900 of his students are reading on and above grade level.

“If that child can’t read that affects their life forever so we really have to stay focused on what the end goal is which is to help every single one of these children become productive adults,” Gray said.

Each year the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction gives schools across the state a performance grade which is made up of 80% proficiency and 20% growth metrics.

From 2014 to 2019 Hidden Valley Elementary School in Charlotte averaged a “D” rating, but data shows the students are either meeting or exceeding their academic growth.

Gray says those grades don’t take social determinants such as low socioeconomic status or language barriers into consideration, and the D score is not a full representation of the work being done in his school.

“Even if we achieve the growth of exceed the growth and get all full twenty percentage points that we would get because our kids are coming in behind and it takes years to build that growth and to eventually grow to that proficiency we continually get rated lower than the work that’s happening here,” he said.

State data shows 16% of HVES students in grades 3-5 are proficient in reading. In 2019 82.6 percent of students met their academic growth standards.

Teachers are participating in several state-level training courses focused on reading fundamentals and professional development courses.

“We can support teachers through our MTSS process; our multi-tiered systems of support, so we’ve done a lot of PD’s around that which supports social-emotional, behavioral, as well as the academic so teachers are able to recognize alright where are our gaps and where’s the data that supports that,” he said.

Daniel Gray is the principal at Hidden Valley Elementary School - he’s on a mission to make sure all 900 of his students are reading on and above grade level.

Teachers are also working with students in small groups so they have more personalized support.

“Targeting students and student groups, pulling kids, and giving them small group instruction is a major focus for us here. Looking at kids and knowing where they’re at and not forgetting there are kids that did achieve and we want to extend those kids,” he said.

Hidden Valley also launched five after-school tutoring programs this year which are supporting 250 students.

Gray is also encouraging parents and community members to get more involved with helping students outside of school.

“Our teachers do a phenomenal job of staying in contact with parents but it’s still not enough. We still have to continue to push those boundaries and say we’re all in this together,” he said.

“Where would you like to see student performance in the next three years,” WBTV’S education reporter Courtney Cole asked.

“The goal for me is for Hidden Valley Elementary to be the best in CMS - that’s a start, because our kids are as smart as any kids anywhere but they have more challenges than a lot of other kids so we have to help them navigate those challenges,” Gray said. “I can’t always take them away but I can give them the tools whether that’s social-emotional, whether that’s academic, we can give them the tools that they need to navigate those challenges to lead to successful outcomes in life.”

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