Macon’s graduation rate among highest in the state; district improves on state report cards

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Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

Based on statistics released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 92.6 percent of Macon County students who enter high school, graduate in four years. Across the state, the average percent sits at 85.8, which is at an all time high for North Carolina.

For the 11th consecutive year, students in North Carolina recorded slight gains in their math and reading proficiency, graduation rates, and readiness for college careers during the past school year, according to the state Department of Public Instruction’s annual report cards. Macon County Schools showed improvements as well.

“All of our schools either met or exceeded their academic growth expectations with the exception of Franklin High School and Union Academy,” said Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “Franklin High School met growth in English II and Math I while Union Academy met growth in their middle school courses. Our graduation rate continues to outpace the state average.  Additionally our WorkKeys (vocational) assessments were much improved in 2015-16.  South Macon Elementary, Highlands School and Macon Early College earned Bs.  Only a small percentage of schools in N.C. were able to score As and Bs.  Our teachers and students are working hard so that all of our schools earn an A on the state report card.”

Dr. Baldwin presented the 2015-16 school report cards to members of the Board of Education last week at Highlands School.

Macon County School District is the 71st largest based on average daily attendance when compared to the other 115 districts in the state. As a whole, the district ranks 65th in per pupil spending and 46th in end of course/end of grade performance with the strongest grade level performances in 8th grade ranked 31st, third through eighth grade reading ranked 34th, and math I ranked 35th. English II scores in the school district moved up 29 spots to 44th in the state.

The majority of schools in the county received Cs on the state report card including Nantahala School, Cartoogechaye Elementary School, East Franklin Elementary School, Iotla Valley Elementary School, Macon Middle School and Franklin High School.

Compared to last school year, both Iotla Valley Elementary and Macon Middle School were recognized for exceeding growth expectations, while Cartoogechaye Elementary, East Franklin, Macon Early College and Nantahala School were identified as meeting growth. Macon Middle School was one of two middle schools to exceed growth in Western North Carolina.

Only 17 to 18 percent of schools in the state received a B grade and of that included three Macon County Schools: Highlands School, Macon Early College, and South Macon Elementary.

Dr. Baldwin noted that while the majority of school sites and courses showed improvement over last year, there are areas of weakness that have been identified in the district’s high schools. Those areas include students’ performance in biology and the ACT. The county’s high schools, specifically Franklin High School performed low in biology,  ranking 91st out of the state’s 115 districts. Dr. Baldwin said that biology was made a priority at FHS and improvements have already been experienced. In terms of the ACT, Macon County students scored five points lower than the state average, something Baldwin believes will improve easily with the biology intervention.

Nearly a third of North Carolina’s 2,459 traditional public and charter schools achieved As and Bs for the year, while the proportion of schools receiving Ds and Fs fell to less than a quarter of all schools. Among those few schools which received failing grades included the state’s two new virtual charter schools, North Carolina Virtual Academy and NC Connections Academy. In math only about a third of students at both schools made passing grades on state standardized tests. 1,500 students in N.C. were served by the two charter schools, including six Macon County students.

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