Since 2015, NC public schools have been evaluated using letter grades based on student performance on state exams: 80% of the grade is based on how many students passed, 20% on student progress. The intention of this system is to provide parents with useful information on how their child's school is performing. The downside is that poorly performing schools, most of which are in high poverty areas, are stigmatized, leaving parents, students, and teachers feeling demoralized. Some schools are unable to hire teachers because of the school's "failing grade." Efforts to change this school grading system with input from professional educators have gone nowhere in the NC General Assembly (NCGA). N&O.
Some school districts have implemented an approach that gives more flexibility and control to struggling local schools. The Restart program allows low-performing schools to adopt charter school-like flexibilities - they can "extend the school day, use funds in ways not designated by the state, hire teachers for positions other than those for which they are licensed, and more." Read more about Restart.
The Innovative School District (ISD) is one controversial approach to "failing" schools that entails their being taken over by a charter school operator appointed by the ISD superintendent. Several schools that were on the list for inclusion in the state-wide ISD successfully objected and remain under local control; one school in Robeson County will be in the ISD this fall, despite local objections. Read more about the ISD: Public Schools First NC, NC Board of Education, NC Policy Watch.
Do you know what grade your local schools have gotten from the state? How do you feel about the grading system and NC's efforts to support struggling schools? School board elections are happening on May 8 and Nov 6. Check our guide to find your school board & NCGA districts and candidates. Check their websites or attend a candidate forum to find out where they stand on these important issues.