Accountability director briefs Vance school board

Nov. 13, 2013 @ 08:23 PM

Vance County’s school board briefed Tuesday night on the state’s recently implemented READY Accountability initiative that employs higher standards, harder assessments and a comprehensive accountability model for North Carolina students.

Vance County Schools’ overall student proficiency was 26.8 percent, just shy of 18 percentage points behind the state norm. The scores reflect the percentage of students who are at grade proficiency, as determined by the new Common Core State standards in reading and math, as well as revised standards in all other subjects.

“Now, the state overall was only 44.6 percent proficient so when you look at our stuff you need to realize that overall everybody in the state took a huge dip, with all those new standard courses of study, and all the curriculum changes and all the assessment changes and they were much more rigorous,” said Wanda Bullard, Vance County Schools director of accountability.

State officials anticipated local districts would see lower scores due to the more rigorous standards.

While the standards for elementary reading and math assessments are more challenging, Bullard said the K-8 READY accountability model for those grades did not change very much.

“We are still looking at the percent proficient and growth for grades 3-5 in reading and math, and percent proficient for grades 5-8 in science,” Bullard said. “But if you look at the high school READY accountability model, that one changed a whole bunch.”

In addition to the end-of-course tests in English, biology and math, the high school accountability model includes new indicators such as students’ performance on the ACT and the number of high level math courses taken.

Bullard said all 11th-graders last year were mandated by the state to take the ACT because the model now measures the percentage of the students who scored a composite of 17 or greater on the ACT.

The ACT composite score ranges from 1-36, where 36 is the highest possible score, and it averages the students’ section scores in English, math, reading and science. Each section is also graded on a 36-point scale.

At the county system’s high schools, students scoring a composite 17 or higher included 68.3 percent of juniors at Vance County Early College High School, 41.6 percent at Northern Vance, 29.5 percent at Southern Vance and 13.3 percent at Western Vance.

Bullard said Vance County high schools were successful in the math course rigor component, which measures the percentage of students who graduate from a four-year high school program after completing four years of different high level math classes.

In Southern, Northern and Western Vance, more than 95 percent of graduated students passed at least four years of math.

The new accountability measurements also report growth levels for each district school. In Vance County, nine of the 16 schools met growth based on the new Education Value-Added Assessment System predictive model. Three schools met growth and four schools exceeded growth.

Bullard said this year EVAAS replaced North Carolina’s previous accountability model, the ABCs of Public Education.

EVAAS measures growth based on predicted scores and predicted percentiles.

EVAAS predicted scores are what schools would expect a student to score based on the student’s own past testing history, using a minimum of three prior test scores for each student.

The predicted percentile is based on students’ collective testing history to determine where individual students rank in the state distribution of all students who took the test.

The student’s predicted score is a way to determine what score to expect of students at each predicted percentile, and it indicates what students need to score to make one year of growth, relative to all students who take the course.

EVAAS growth measure is a function of the difference between what students are predicted to score and what they actually score.

In Granville County schools, seven schools met growth, eight schools exceeded growth expectations and five schools did not meet growth.

In Warren County schools, six schools met growth and two schools exceeded growth.

In North Carolina, more than 71 percent of public schools met or exceeded academic growth expectations.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.