Continuation of troubled schools in CMS

Revisiting the 'troubled ten'
Published: May. 19, 2016 at 6:29 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2016 at 9:20 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Several Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools that were struggling more than ten years ago are still struggling today.

WBTV did a series back in 2005 highlighting the 10 lowest performing high schools in Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) District. A judge declared academic genocide was happening in schools that didn't have 60% of its student body on grade level.

West Charlotte High School was the lowest performing high school back in 2005. 34.5% of the student body was proficient years ago.

West Charlotte High School did improve and eventually got the test scores up to where a little more than 70% of the student body performed on grade level, but today those scores are back down.

The test scores from 2014-2015 show West Charlotte High School is 28.8% proficient and when it comes to students who are College and Career Ready - 20% are considered ready for the world.

WBTV talked to school board chairperson, Mary McCray about why West Charlotte High and other schools are still stuck.

"We are now serving more homeless children than we ever served before and I don't see the numbers going down when it comes to that," McCray said. "We are still having families who are living in poverty, that number is ever increasing. Until some of those issues are corrected in Charlotte Mecklenburg, hopefully we can see an uptick."

McCray also tells WBTV some schools that weren't struggling a decade ago are now struggling.

"We are, we have and will be working on bettering our schools," McCray said. "Because those schools, it doesn't make sense all these years they have just been there and not doing what needs to be done to brighten the lives of the students they are serving."

McCray says CMS can't turn these schools around by themselves.

"It's got to be some other groups jumping in there, too," she said. "Kids have got to have the healthcare they need. They got to have the mental health needs satisfied in their communities."

Besides West Charlotte High School, other schools in 2005 that had fewer than 60% of the student body making the grade were Independence, West Mecklenburg, East Mecklenburg, Harding, Phillip O. Berry Academy, Garinger, Olympic, E.E. Waddell and Vance high schools.

Waddell is no longer a high school and Olympic has split into five academically themed schools.

Here are how the scores from eleven years ago compare to today:

  • During the 2004-2005 school year Garinger High had 41.1% of the students performing on grade level. Today, only 30% of the students are on grade level and 20% are considered college and career ready.
  • Harding University High School had 55.5% of its student population on grade level 11 years ago. Today, 25.9% of students are proficient and 18.7% are deemed college and career ready.
  • West Mecklenburg High School 45.2% on grade level more than a decade ago. Currently, 32.3% of students on grade level and test shows 21.3% of the students are college and career ready.
  • Vance High School had 52.4% of students of grade level back in 2005.  Now, 39.9% of students are proficient and 29.4% of students are college and career ready.

The other schools are still struggling but not doing as bad as the other schools.

WEB EXTRA: Click here to see how schools across the state are doing

McCray tells WBTV in addition to creating a strong student assignment plan that will better all schools and boost test scores, but good teaching must happen.

"One of the things we are looking at is making sure there's not just a body, but a qualified person who is in there and is going to do the teaching and our students are ready to do the learning," McCray said.

Administrators and teachers are doing all they can to push academic achievement in the low performing schools, but the assignment is tough.

"You work hard, but it's still not enough" teacher Albert Carter said. "It's not enough for the district. Not enough for administration. It's not enough for the results you'll get."

Carter works at Bruns Academy - a low performing school.

He says academic achievement can be a challenge because teachers don't last to continue the work.

"I've never worked in a school where everyone lasts a whole year," Carter said. "Eventually someone drops off."

Carter has established an After-School program that is designed to help students get on grade level and stay out of trouble. It's called Hip Hop University.

It uses Hip Hop to relate to student the importance of working hard in school. Carter believes a new approach news to happen.

"They stick to the same old thing," Carter said. "With what they feel could work for these students and results show and stats show time and time again, this is not working."

CMS hopes a new superintendent, new student assignment plan, community involvement and good leadership will turn schools around. The district believes those are the ingredients to success.

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