North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction has released state testing and graduation data, offering a reason for celebration within the local school district. The recent results have brought forth encouraging progress for many schools, reflecting the hard work of both students and educators.
Anita Hooker, the first-year principal at Ashley Academy, expressed her excitement as students at her school exceeded growth for the first time in at least three years. This achievement marked a significant turning point for Ashley Academy, which is no longer classified as a low-performing school. Hooker emphasized that such successes demonstrate the staff’s determination to overcome challenges.
The district as a whole witnessed an impressive 5% increase in overall scores compared to the previous year. Additionally, there was a notable reduction in schools receiving “D” or “F” grades, and the four-year graduation rate reached an all-time high of 87%.
A particularly commendable achievement was seen among Black students, whose graduation rate rose from 84% to 88.6% over the past year. This remarkable progress brought them nearly on par with their white counterparts, whose graduation rate slightly decreased from 90% to 89.6% during the same period. Just a few years ago, there was a substantial 6% gap in graduation rates between Black and white students.
Apart from Ashley, nine other schools have shed their low-performing status. These schools, including Brunson, Caleb’s Creek, Kimberley Park, Moore, Speas, Union Cross, and Walkertown elementary schools, as well as Carver and East Forsyth high schools, achieved growth that exceeded expectations.
Low-performing schools are those that receive “D” or “F” grades without exceeding expected growth. In this regard, the number of low-performing schools in the district decreased from 35 in 2022 to 29.
Thyais Maxwell, the principal at Carver, acknowledged the school’s “D” rating but emphasized the positive trend of gradual improvement. Maxwell’s sentiments underscore the dedication of teachers and the effectiveness of their efforts in achieving incremental gains, which she values over rapid fluctuations.
Four schools within the local district stood out with “A” grades for their performance: Atkins High School, the Early College of Forsyth, the Middle College of Forsyth, and Reagan High School. This marked a slight decrease from the previous year when five schools received “A” grades.
It’s worth noting that 80% of a school’s letter grade is determined by their performance on state standardized tests, while 20% is attributed to growth, based on a controversial calculation model established by the General Assembly in 2013.
Despite the overall positive trends, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are still striving to bridge the gap created by the pandemic. Results indicate that 48% of district students scored at or above grade level, representing a 5% improvement from the previous year and a 10% increase from 2020-21. However, this still falls behind the state average, which stands at 53.6%.
Furthermore, the number of schools failing to meet expected growth increased slightly from 18 to 20. Superintendent Tricia McManus emphasized the district’s commitment to improvement, citing several schools, including Moore Magnet, Speas, and Ward elementary schools, that saw double-digit growth in some of their scores. While celebrating their achievements, McManus acknowledged that there is still work ahead to continue improving the district’s educational outcomes.