River Road, Central exceed growth target on testing


Joanne Sanders


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A handful of area schools exceeded expected growth on the 2017-2018 state accountability testing program, including River Road Middle School and Central Elementary School.

Joanne Sanders, acting superintendent of ECPPS, said it was a remarkable accomplishment at both schools that they moved from low-performing status to a “C” grade and also exceeded growth.

River Road Middle just completed its first year in the state’s “restart” model of school reform under the leadership of Principal Adrian Fonville, who came to the school in July 2017.

River Road and Central have focused intently on meeting the needs of individual students and making good use of individual instruction, Sanders said.

ECPPS had four schools that met expected growth: J.C. Sawyer Elementary School, Sheep-Harney Elementary School, Weeksville Elementary School, and Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Early College.

The other schools in ECPPS did not meet expected growth.

“We recognize there is still much work ahead with regard to student achievement and growth; however, the entire ECPPS team is dedicated to helping all of our students find success,” the school district said last week in a prepared statement.

For the second year in a row, an ECPPS elementary school received an “F” grade from the state. This year it was Pasquotank Elementary. P.W. Moore received an “F” grade last year but this year pulled up to a “D.”

Sanders said one of the challenges at Pasquotank Elementary is that it has a very transient student body. Many of the students present in a given month were not at the school the month before, Sanders said.

School district staff is working with the principal and staff at Pasquotank Elementary to write an improvement plan that will bring stronger student achievement to the school.

Charter school Northeast Academy of Aerospace and Advanced Technologies, also did not meet expect growth for the 2017-2018 school year.

Andrew Harris, chief executive officer at NEAAAT, said he remains proud of the work the school does.

“I’m proud of the work of all of the folks in our building,” Harris said. “Our coaches have been working extremely hard and I think it shows in terms of outcomes that you don’t see in the growth score.”

NEAAAT’s growth score is affected by the number of students who move into the area with Coast Guard families, who come from private schools or have been homeschooled before coming to the charter school. As a result, they do not have North Carolina testing data to serve as a baseline until their second year at the school, Harris said. The school is working on a solution to that issue, Harris said.

Harris also said the way growth is calculated by the state changes from year to year and is quite complicated.

“I don’t think anyone really has a solid understanding of just how growth is calculated and that is part of the problem,” Harris said.

Sanders agreed that the growth formula is extremely complicated.

Harris said that despite not meeting growth under the state’s current formula, NEAAAT has indicators of strong achievement including college credit earned by students, number of transferable college credits and the number of students involved in internships.

But the school also recognizes that standardized test scores are important to accountability and will continue to work toward exceeding growth.

Steve Basnight, principal at J.P. Knapp Early College High School in Currituck, noted that Knapp had exceeded growth for four consecutive years and met growth five years ago in the 2013-2014 school year.

Moyock Middle School also exceeded growth.

Among other schools in Currituck, Central Elementary, Jarvisburg Elementary, Shawboro Elementary, and W.T. Griggs Elementary met expected growth. The other schools in the district did not meet growth.

Grandy Primary School in Camden, which this year joined J.P. Knapp as an “A” school, exceed growth, as did Camden Early College High School. Camden High School, Camden Intermediate School and Camden Middle School all met growth.

In Perquimans County, Perquimans Central School does not have a growth score because it does not have third-graders whose test scores are used by the state as the basis for the score. Hertford Grammar, Perquimans County High and Perquimans County Middle all met growth.

Chowan Middle School, D.F. Walker Elementary School and John A. Holmes High School all met growth. White Oak Elementary School is pre-K through second-grade so it doesn’t have a score.