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School data shows pandemic learning loss

School data shows pandemic learning loss

Performance data recently released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction shows that just 45.4% of elementary, middle and high school students passed state exams given during the 2020-21 school year and 29.6% passed college or career readiness tests. 

The state graduation rate for 2020-21 was 86.9%. Under the federal waiver, schools and the state were not held to the requirement that at least 95 percent of students participate in the assessments, and in many cases far fewer students were tested.

“Given the various circumstances of the 2020-21 school year, comparisons to the 2018-19 school year, though provided as a reference point, are not recommended,” reads a statement from DPI. “Districts and schools operated various instructional schedules, and the assessments were administered during a much wider time frame than typical. These two factors prohibit comparisons. However, the 2018-19 data gives a context for discussions on how to address instruction in the 2021-22 school year.”

Haywood County Schools scored well relative to other districts in the state, though it did decline in all areas compared to its own scores during the 2018 school year — as did all districts in North Carolina. Haywood County Schools ranked 10th among the state’s 115 school districts based upon the system’s performance composite. Haywood County Early College was one of only 11 schools in the state of North Carolina that had over 95% of students earn grade-level proficient scores. 

“Academic data tells a story. Whether it’s in a school or a classroom, there’s always a story. This data’s story is about the many difficult decisions that were made in regards to students receiving the best education possible in a world most of us never envisioned prior to March of 2020,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jill Barker. 

Haywood County Schools had 56.3% of students achieve grade-level proficiency, an eight point drop from the 2018 score, but almost 12 points higher than the state average for the 2020-21 school year. The average drop in scores in the western region was 14 points from 2018. Haywood County dropped the least amount in scores between 2018 and 2021. 

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Haywood County third graders ranked 11th in the state for grade level proficiency, fourth grade ranked fifth in the state, fifth grade ranked seventh, sixth grade ranked 34th, seventh grade ranked 24th, eighth grade ranked 13th and high schoolers ranked 11th. 

Haywood County Schools had 37.7% of students pass college or career readiness tests, more than eight points above the state average. Graduation rate in Haywood County was 89.6% for the 2020-21 school year, almost three points above the state average. 

Jackson County Schools had 41.5 % of students achieve grade-level proficiency or pass state exams. This is almost four points below the state average. Jackson County Schools also fell below the state average in college or career readiness tests, with only 25.5% of students passing, also four points below the state average. 

“This data has reinforced our decision to implement a consistent, system-wide curriculum and allowed our schools and directors to focus on specific academic areas to target,” said Superintendent Dr. Dana Ayers. “This year and for future years we will focus on uniform reading strategies, understanding and reading comprehension in our K-8 schools.” 

Jackson County Schools had the highest graduation rate in the western region at 92.9%. This ranks Jackson County Schools eighth in the state for the four-year cohort graduation rate. 

Macon County Schools scored above the state average for both grade-level proficiency and college or career readiness. Over 49% of students achieved grade level proficiency, four points above the state average. In Macon County, 30.9% of students passed college or career readiness exams, over one point above state average. Macon county had a graduation rate of 81.7%, five points below the state average. 

Swain County Schools students achieved grade level proficiency at 44.9%, just below the state average, and college or career readiness at 27.5%, again just below the state average. Swain County School had a graduation rate of 76.8%, ten points below the state average. 

“We know the 2020-21 school year was incredibly challenging for students, families and educators,” said State Superintendent Dr. Catherine Truitt. “We need to remember these results are only a snapshot of a year marked by extreme anomalies and extenuating circumstances. To treat these scores as though they are valid indicators of future success or performance would not only be an improper use of these data, but also would be a disservice to our students, teachers and administrators.”

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