BEAUFORT — The county school system has a lot to celebrate regarding 2018-19 state accountability test results because scores increased.
However, there is also cause for concern regarding the high school graduation rate, which is below the state average and decreased from the previous year.
As for test results, all county schools received a passing grade of at least a C for student performance, with three schools, Croatan High School, East Carteret High School and the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School receiving A’s. West Carteret High School received a B, missing an A by one point.
The county’s charter school, Tiller School of Beaufort, received a B.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction released the results of the annual School Performance Grade accountability measurement Sept. 4. However, the school system was closed Sept. 4-6 due to Hurricane Dorian, so local results were delayed from being released by the county school system.
The accountability model factors in results of the 2018-19 state end-of-grade and end-of-course exams, as well as other data, to compile a letter grade for each school and district.
Superintendent Mat Bottoms, in a press release issued Sept. 10 about the results, said 88.2% of the county’s schools received a grade of A or B. Although not confirmed by DPI, Mr. Bottoms further said based on high school end-of-course test scores, the county’s high schools are ranked first in the state.
He said considering the school system was closed 15 days last year due to Hurricane Florence, the district has a lot to celebrate.
“With the release of the school grades, Carteret County has even more to be proud of in terms of its public school system,” Mr. Bottoms said. “These significant increases reflect the grit and determination of our teachers in their delivery of instruction and of the students in their comprehension and hard work.”
He further pointed out that EOG and EOC test scores increased, and given many students and employees lost their homes or were displaced by Hurricane Florence, that is an outstanding accomplishment.
“These students and employees faced adversity, social and emotional challenges, and they excelled,” Mr. Bottoms said. “I cannot say enough about the resiliency of our community and the importance our families and teachers place on each student’s education.”
ECHS was among schools receiving an A for 2018-19, and biology teacher Stephanie Sanders said she was proud of her students for overcoming incredible obstacles due to Florence to achieve outstanding results.
“Our school is very much a community school and we rely on each other. Students know how much we care,” Ms. Sanders said.
ECHS student Brynna Bates was among students displaced by Hurricane Florence. Her family just moved back into their house in Beaufort during the summer.
“I think a lot of people do better in school when they work jobs or play sports and have a lot to overcome,” she said.
Schools are also measured on the amount of academic growth a student makes from the beginning to the end of the school year. Schools are measured as exceeding, meeting or not meeting growth expectations.
For Carteret County, all schools met or exceeded growth standards with the exceptions of Down East Middle/Smyrna Elementary schools and Newport Elementary School.
As for graduation rates, the report shows 84.2% of county students completed high school in four years or less. That compares to 85.2% the previous year.
The 2018-19 county graduation rate of 84.2% is below the state average of 86.5%.
The graduation rate for each high school was: CHS, 90.4%, up from 89.7% the previous year; ECHS, 85.4%, up from 84.5% the previous year; and WCHS, 79.3%, down from 82.5% the previous year.
School officials did not respond to a request for comment regarding the graduation rate by presstime.
In the release, Mr. Bottoms said regarding test scores that school administrators and staff have already begun analyzing data looking for areas of needed improvement.
For more information on results, go to ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting/.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.