Rocky Mount Telegram, September 10, 2018, by Amelia Harper
Edgecombe County Public Schools registered some improvement on the 2017-18 preliminary school performance scores and exited low-performing status this year, but still has plenty of room for improvement.
Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Valerie Bridges credits school leaders with much of the improvement.
“We have an awesome team of leaders — principals, assistant principals and central office staff — that believe in our students. During last school year, we placed a heavier emphasis on district and school walk-throughs to ensure that high quality instruction was occurring in every classroom,” Bridges said.
Letter grades improved overall. Edgecombe Early College maintains its A for the fifth year in a row. Two schools — North Edgecombe High School and West Edgecombe Middle School — made a C this year, compared with none last year.
Eight schools made a D, the same as last year. These schools were G.W. Bulluck Elementary. G.W. Carver Elementary, Princeville Elementary, South Edgecombe Middle, W.A. Patillo Middle. SouthWest Edgecombe High and Tarboro High schools and Martin Millennium Academy.
Three schools failed, compared with five last year. Failing schools were Coker-Wimberly Elementary School. Stocks Elementary School, and Phillips Middle School.
This year, four schools exceeded growth compared to three schools last year; seven additional schools met growth, compared to three last year, and only three schools failed to meet growth compared to eight — more than half — last year. This improvement in growth scores is the main reason the school district is no longer on the state’s list of low-performing schools.
Bridges said the emphasis placed by the state on test results rather than growth scores — the measure of knowlege students have gained across the year— impacts the school district negatively.
“The formula for school performance grades are currently calculated using 80 percent of a school’s overall proficiency and 20 percent of a school’s growth, which disadvantages many school systems. Based on the student growth in most of our schools, the grades would look much different if a more equitable calculation were used with growth carrying more weight. We are proud of the schools that exceeded and met growth, but our goal is to work tirelessly until all of our schools are exceeding growth,” Bridges said.
The three schools located in the north side Innovation Zone — or iZone — all saw significant improvement this year,
Coker-Wimberly Elementary School gained 11 points this year. Though it still maintains an F rating, the school looks poised to make a D rating next year. Students met growth this year after failing to meet growth last year.
Phillips Middle School gained seven points this year, though it is still an F school. It also met growth this year after failing to meet growth last year.
North Edgecombe High School gained four points this year, edging it into a C category and making it the second highest performing high school after the early college. It also exceeded growth for the second year in a row.
Bridges credits last year’s implementation of the Opportunity Culture model with much of the impact on these schools.
“In an Opportunity Culture, teachers with a proven track record of improving student academic outcomes support and lead other teachers in the classroom sharing best practices. In addition, the schools in that feeder pattern narrowed their focus and have a renewed sense of community and engagement,” Bridges said.
The school district is expanding the Opportunity Culture model as well.
“This school year we have implemented the Opportunity Culture concept for schools in the Tarboro feeder pattern, while schools on the south side of our district will begin designing their plan this school year,” Bridges said.
Three other schools also showed good progress this year. West Edgecombe Middle School gained seven points on the school performance scores, rising from a D to a C. It also exceeded growth after failing to meet growth last year. G.W. Carver Elementary School remains a D, but rose 10 points in its score and exceeded growth when it did not meet growth last year. Princeville Elementary, which remains displaced by Hurricane Matthew, gained eight points, rising from an F to a D and meeting growth for the second year in a row.
Bridges said the teachers at the schools continue to make a difference in school achievement.
“We have a dedicated teaching staff that work incredibly hard creating positive opportunities and experiences for our students,” Bridges said. “Our goal is to collaboratively work to support all schools based on their unique needs.”
Originally posted in Rocky Mount Telegram. No longer available in newspaper archive.