MOORESVILLE – End-of-grade and end-of-course test scores are used by many to measure how effectively schools are teaching their students.
But both school district public information officers in the Mooresville area – Boen Nutting of Iredell-Statesville Schools and Tanae McLean of Mooresville Graded School District – agree that state test score data is not the only thing that should be measured.
“The way the data is reported never tells the whole story,” Nutting said.
Thirty-five Iredell-Statesville Schools (I-SS) schools were ranked in this year’s N.C. Department of Public Instruction School Performance Grades assessment. Of those, 14 schools – including Brawley Middle, Lake Norman High, Lake Norman Elementary and Lakeshore Middle – exceeded growth expectations. Another 14 – including Coddle Creek Elementary, Lakeshore Elementary, Mount Mourne School and Woodland Heights Elementary – met growth expectations. Seven – including Shepard Elementary – did not meet growth expectations.
“When we see that Lakeshore Middle (School) has had over three points of growth, that means they have exceed statistically what we anticipated their students might do,” Nutting said. “In other words, they did a great job of educating those kids (and) a great job of delivering curriculum, and those kids did a great job of growing.”
Lakeshore Middle received a “B” letter grade from the state. And those grades, says Nutting, can confuse people.
“When you have school that gets a letter grade of C, let’s say, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story of that school or the story of every individual child in that building,” Nutting said.
Grades are primarily meant to represent what percentage of students have reached proficiency.
“It is very difficult to rise from one grade to another,” Nutting said. “In my mind, it’s more important for us to grow. The growth index is what we’re celebrating in the Iredell-Statesville school system.”
Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD) was ranked eighth out of 115 public school districts in the state.
Out of its seven schools, two – Mooresville High and Park View Elementary – exceeded growth expectations. Three – South Elementary, Rocky River Elementary and East Mooresville Intermediate – met growth expectations. Two – Mooresville Middle and Mooresville Intermediate – did not meet growth expectations.
“Our teachers do a phenomenal job of nurturing and believing in our students, as well as providing personalized instruction based on individual student needs,” McLean said. “Furthermore, the support we receive from our families and community is critical. It truly takes a village to be successful.”
MGSD saw a number of grade levels do well on their end-of-grade (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) tests, particularly third-, sixth- , eighth- and 10th-graders.
“While we look to continuously improve in all areas across the district, we recognize that our lowest scores were in the sciences and fifth grade,” McLean said.
Both McLean and Nutting said that, while EOC and EOG test scores aren’t everything, they are used constructively when planning for the next school year.
“While there are several factors that attribute to our success as a district – and test scores are not the only indicator of a successful district – we do use the data we collect to understand what we are doing well but also where we need to regroup and focus our efforts,” McLean said.
McLean said “data meetings” are held at MGSD schools quarterly and give staff the chance to have detailed discussions about student achievement and develop strategies for improving student performance.
“The data is used to develop and modify School Improvement Plans, set goals for the year, maintain and provide resources, as well as shape or direct the focus of our professional development,” McLean said.
Nutting said I-SS will be holding a district-wide “end-of-year” day in October that will give senior leadership a chance to review data from the previous year and talk about how to improve.
“It’s kind of strange to say ‘end-of-year review’ in October, but it takes all this time to get data from the state and be able to really use it in our schools and our classrooms,” Nutting said.
From there, I-SS principals will bring any insights gathered back to their school and faculty.
“The principals will drill down to their individual schools, and then you drill it down to your grade level or content area,” Nutting said.