Fifteen Cumberland schools drop off state’s low-performing list, report says

classroomCumberland County School Administrators announced Thursday that 15 schools in the district have been removed from the state’s list of low-performing schools based on end-of-year and end-of-course test results.

The school performance report for the 2021-22 school year was released Thursday by the NC Department of Education.
The report says the district’s student achievement scores are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The results are based on an analysis of end-of-year (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) tests, used to assess proficiency in the arts and reading of English, mathematics and science.

At a press conference to discuss the test results, Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr. was joined by Kim Nash, executive director of data and accountability; Jane Fields, associate superintendent for school support; Stacey Wilson-Norman, head of academia; and John McMillian, principal of Lewis Chapel Middle School.

Lewis Chapel was among the middle school with the highest composite earnings.
The state accountability report includes performance and growth data for schools and districts across North Carolina. Nash defined growth as a student’s actual performance against predictions of how a student will perform based on a number of factors, including testing.

In his opening remarks, Connelly said the district has overcome incredible challenges, from disruption caused by the pandemic to teacher shortages. And, due to COVID-19, the accountability report is the first since the 2018-19 school year to include the entire state accountability framework.

“Test results are just one of many ways we measure the progress we are making in our district,” Connelly said.

But, he added, the accountability results demonstrate the “incredible work” that is happening in Cumberland County schools.
Nash highlighted the main findings of the report. In reading, English, math, and science, various grades in the district had an increase in proficiency compared to last year, but did not exceed the proficiency levels reported in 2018-19.

For example, in 2018-19, before the pandemic, the composite performance of the district was 54.7% from the third to the twelfth year. In 2019-20, the scores dropped to 36.8%. In 2021-22, those scores jumped to 47.3%.

In class-level proficiency for grades three to five, composite reading proficiency (combined grades) increased from 36.6% to 43.1%. In 2018-19, composite reading proficiency was 55.3%. For math, composite competency scores were 45.1% in 2021-22 compared to 28.9% the previous year.

The math composite score was 54% in 2018-19.

Fifth grade science skills scores were 73.3% in 2018-19, 45.9% in 2020-21, and 62.2% in 2021-22.
The trend for middle school continues. Class-level reading proficiency scores in grades six to eight were 47.1%, up from 42.6% in 2020-21. The 2018-19 score was 53.9%.

The middle school math composite score was 46.8% in 2018-19, 28.9% in 2020-21, and 36.8% in 2021-22.
The high school level skills assessment in grades 9 to 12 includes biology, English 2 and mathematics 1 and 3. For the years 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22, the composite scores were 58.5%, 36.7% and 50.8%, respectively. For English ll, the scores were 56.9%, 53.9% and 55.7%, respectively. For Math 1, the scores were 41.6%, 19.2%, and 35%. And for Math 3, the respective scores were 43.2%, 29.6%, and 50.9%.

High school ACT scores for 2021-22 were lower than in both previous years. Nash said the University of North Carolina system raised the standard from 17 to 19, resulting in a smaller percentage of students hitting the new benchmarks. Additionally, graduation rates have declined over the past three years. The 2021-22 district four-year graduation rate fell to 82.8%, compared to 84.2% in 2020-21.

The schools that have shown the greatest composite score gains include:
Elementary Schools: Warrenwood, Ponderosa and Mary McArthur.

Middle Schools: Reid Ross Classical, Lewis Chapel and Luther “Nick” Jeralds.
High Schools: Cape Fear, Pine Forest, and Douglas Byrd.

“Even though we have a lot more work to do, we need to stop and celebrate the achievements of teachers and students,” Connelly said.

On Thursday, the United States Department of Education reported that reading and math performance experienced the most drastic decline in decades. The report cited the pandemic, disruptions and violence in classrooms and a shortage of teachers as causes.

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