NC State Superintendent of Public Instruction discusses desire to change school performance grade measures

Schools receive a letter grade ranging from A to F, out of those D and F are considered “low performing.”
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 11:21 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction wants to make changes to school accountability measures.

Since 2014, NCPDI has implemented school performance grades to measure the quality of schools based on students’ growth and performance on standardized tests.

Under state law, performance grades are based on each school’s achievement score, which is a weight of 80 percent, and each school’s students’ academic growth which is a weight of 20 percent.

Schools receive a letter grade ranging from A to F; out of those, D and F are considered “low performing.”

WBTV interviewed State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt on Thursday about her desire to change the performance measure.

Truitt believes the performance measures should be remodeled to still maintain accountability without overemphasizing student test scores.

Truitt’s Strategic Plan Operation Polaris, which was launched in September 2021, includes a goal aimed at developing a multi-measure model of school performance that places greater emphasis on North Carolina educational values.

“I think we should look at multiple ways to measure school quality, such as parent satisfaction surveys, teacher satisfaction surveys, school climate surveys, and chronic absenteeism - if students are not at school, they’re not going to learn,” Truitt said.

She also added that schools need to make sure that the College and Career Promise program is available to students, which allows them to take free post-secondary courses while still in high school. In addition, she says work-based learning opportunities, internships, and after-school tutoring are all valuable factors that aren’t factored into the school letter grade.

According to the 2021-2022 state test scores report, 2,595 schools were measured during the 2021-2022 school year. Of those schools, 42.3 percent of schools in the state are considered low performing, aka, D or F score, 35 percent are C schools, compared to 17.2 percent of B schools, and 5.6 percent of A schools.

There are 464 recurring low-performing schools for 2021-2022 compared to 423 during the 2021-2022 school year.

Additionally, Truitt believes the letter grade does not show all of the initiatives educators are implementing to improve student performance and growth.

“That one letter grade is not indicative of all of the efforts that go into helping a student be successful,” Truitt said.

On September 22, NCPDI announced it was partnering with the independent news and data source EdNC to collect survey responses from parents, educators, students, and others in the community about how they would like to see the quality approach be better measured.

Truitt says a vast majority of parents who have completed the survey believe that schools should be measured on more than high-stakes testing and growth.

The survey closes on October 10th at 5 p.m.

NCDPI will present its data and recommendations to the General Assembly, which will ultimately decide if the performance grade measures change.

Related: CMS launches out-of-school tutoring program for 42 low-performing schools