County schools rank 32nd out of 115 districts

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photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

The Macon County Board of Education got a snapshot view of school performance during Monday night’s monthly meeting held at Highlands School. School accountability data collected by the state tracks test scores for all schools within North Carolina and determines whether schools met expectations, exceeded growth, or were not able to meet growth targets. 

All North Carolina public schools, including charter schools, have received A through F letter grades since 2013-14, when the General Assembly passed legislation requiring it. Schools are also judged on whether their students exceeded, met or did not meet academic growth expectations during the year. Report card grades are based on student performance standards, including end-of-year tests. Eighty percent of a school’s grade relies on achievement scores while 20% is based on student growth.

Overall, Macon County Schools ranked 32nd out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of combined test scores, which looks at both End of Course tests taken in higher grades and the End of Grade tests taken in.  elementary schools.

“Our schools were strongest in Math I (Fifth grade), 8th grade combined scores and 8th grade Math,” said Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “Seventh grade ranked 16th overall in the state, which is reading and math combined.”

Dr. Baldwin also noted that Macon Middle School, Highlands School, Nantahala, South Macon Elementary, and Macon Early College are all in the top 50 percent of schools in North Carolina in terms of Academic Growth. 

While there were several positives to report, Dr. Baldwin also noted that there are areas that have room for improvement. 

“We will be taking a closer look at 3rd and 4th grade Math, which ranked 65th and 64th respectively,” said Baldwin. “This is unusually low for our elementary schools.”

While there are 115 districts in the state, Macon County ranks 71st largest in terms of ADM (Average Daily Membership). When looking at all the 9-12 schools in the district, Macon County ranked 21st and continues to produce a graduation rate well above the state average. 

Highlands School was recognized for exceeding growth expectations for the 6th time out of the past seven years. 

Macon County Elementary Schools were also given letter grades when considering their overall academic achievements. South Macon Elementary School was the only school to receive a “B”, which falls in line with 28.2 percent of schools in the state. Iotla Valley and Cartoogechaye Elementary schools each received a “C” which falls in line with 42.9 percent of schools in North Carolina. East Franklin Elementary School received a “D” and was identified as “Does not meet” growth expectations. 

Macon Middle School received a B, something only 24 percent of middle schools in the state achieved while Mountain View Intermediate School received a “C”. 

Macon Early College was the only school in the district to receive an “A” grade. Both Highlands and Franklin High School received a “B” and Nantahala received a “C.” 

Overall, more than a third of North Carolina’s 2,500 public schools received a performance grade of A or B and 28 percent of all schools exceeded academic growth expectations. 

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