All Schools in Dare County Meet or Exceed Measures of Annual Growth for Students, Even as Proficiency Levels Drop Under New State Testing Program
All Schools in Dare County Meet or Exceed Measures of Annual Growth for Students

In 2012-2013, the state of North Carolina implemented a new, more rigorous curriculum in every grade level and subject. To go along with the revised curriculum, the state developed tougher tests that required students to apply the information they had learned to answer complex questions. The State Board of Education then increased the number of test questions a student must answer correctly to be considered “proficient” (on grade level). The more difficult curriculum led to high growth levels for students in Dare County Schools. However, gaps in the curriculum were created when advanced material was moved down to lower grades. Tougher tests and raised standards for proficiency resulted in significantly lower scores across the state and for the school system.

Students at all schools in Dare County met or exceeded the expectations for “growth,” or the amount of material that should be learned in a year. Five schools met the criteria for “high growth,” including Cape Hatteras Elementary School, First Flight Elementary School, Kitty Hawk Elementary School, Nags Head Elementary School, and First Flight High School. Six schools achieved “expected growth,” including Manteo Elementary School, Manteo Middle School, First Flight Middle School, Cape Hatteras Secondary School, and Manteo High School. Statewide, 70 percent of schools demonstrated expected growth or high growth, compared to 100 percent in Dare County.

Regarding proficiency levels, Dare’s students performed well compared to the rest of the state. “Our overall composite score of 54.7 percent was 8th highest in the state out of 115 school districts,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sue Burgess. Of the 17 end-of-grade and end-of-course tests, Dare County students exceeded the state average on all but one of them.

“The new cut scores are quite stringent,” observed Burgess, who noted that Chapel Hill/Carrboro’s composite score of 68.5 percent was the only one in the state above 60 percent. Twenty school systems posted composite scores ranging from 50 percent to 59 percent. The other 94 school systems had composite scores below 50 percent.

In addition to ranking eighth in the state overall, another especially bright spot for Dare County Schools was the score on the end-of-grade test in 5th grade science. Dare’s 64.3 percent proficiency rate was second best in the state. Also, Dare’s students scored above 60 percent proficiency on five of the 17 tests, including three reading tests and two science tests.

 “I can’t begin to tell you what a mammoth task our teachers and students faced last year when confronted with totally different material. The state’s new curriculum required teachers to alter their lesson plans and instructional techniques. Pushing advanced concepts down to lower grades will be a good thing in the long run, but in the short run, it put the students at a disadvantage, particularly in math, where the skills needed to succeed are so sequential. All things considered, I’m very proud of the efforts of our teachers to manage such sweeping changes,” concluded Burgess.