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Data shows improvements for local charter schools

Shining Rock Classical Academy. File photo Shining Rock Classical Academy. File photo

With accountability data released from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, all charter schools in the Smoky Mountain News’ four-county coverage area showed an increase in the percentage of students passing state exams during the 2022-23 school year compared to 2021-22 school year. 


The accountability report for the 2022-23 school year is only the second such report since the 2018-19 school year to feature all elements of the state’s accountability framework, including growth designations and performance grades, due to the disruptions to teaching and learning caused by the pandemic.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of the pandemic,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a press release, “but teachers across North Carolina are working harder than ever to help students recover, and more importantly, advance in their learning. We owe them our gratitude for meeting this challenge to improve outcomes for students.” 

For the first time since the pandemic, over 50% of elementary and middle school students in North Carolina achieved grade level proficiency in reading and math.

The data gives every individual school a letter grade, A through F, based on each school’s achievement score from assessments such as end-of-grade and end-of-course tests, English language assessments, ACT scores, four-year graduation rates and students’ academic growth. The assessments account for 80% of the letter grade and growth accounts for 20%.

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“The A-F school performance grades that schools received for 2021-22 and in 2022-23 were affected by the formula used to determine those grades because student performance on the state tests far outweighs the credit schools earn for the progress students make on the same tests from one year to the next,” said Truitt. “Eighty percent of the grade is for the percentage of tests earning a score of at least grade-level proficient; 20% is for growth, measured by a statistical model that compares each student’s predicted test score, based on past performance, against his or her actual result.” 

Charter schools are public schools authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. In North Carolina, charter schools are funded primarily through state and local tax dollars that follow students as they move through the public school system. Charter schools receive funding depending on their average daily membership — the number of students attending a school in any given year — and the funding levels of the local education agency or the school district.

Shining Rock Classical Academy, Haywood County’s only charter school, served grades K-10 during the 2022-23 school year. It received a C letter grade for the second year in a row with a 61% performance score, just under Haywood County Schools’ performance score which had 64.4% of students proficient on state exams, meaning they achieved grade level proficiency. This composite performance score showed a significant increase from the prior year when 54.9% of students were proficient on state exams. The school met growth standards overall and exceeded growth standards in mathematics.

Summit Charter School in Jackson County serves grades K-12 afer graduating its first class of seniors  in the spring of 2022.

So far into its high school endeavors, Summit has maintained a 100% graduation rate, with 100% of students also earning acceptance to college, including 71 offers of admission from 31 colleges and universities. Of Summit graduates who have gone on to college, 30% are first-generation college bound.

Summit received a C letter grade for the second year in a row with 69% of students reaching proficiency on state exams. This score was well above Jackson County School’s performance composite which, for the 2022-23 school year showed 47.7% of students were proficient on state exams. Summit Charter School met growth standards for the year.

These data represent an improvement for Summit; during the 2021-22 school year the school did not meet growth standards and only 54% of students achieved grade level proficiency.

While Summit received a C letter grade overall, it scored a B in the area of mathematics.

Mountain Discovery Charter School in Swain County is a K-8 school. It also received a C letter grade, also for the second year in a row. But while the school did not meet growth standards in the 2021-22 school year, it exceeded growth standards in the 2022-23 school year. The school’s composite performance score shows 63% of students were proficient on state exams. This is an increase from the 2021-22 school year when 55.8% of students passed state exams and well above Swain County Schools’ performance composite score of 48.9%.

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