CMS celebrates small wins but still struggles with student performance

CMS celebrates small wins but still struggles with student performance

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has both made gains and lost ground in academic performance in the last year, new state data shows.

Why it matters: CMS has faced mounting challenges, from pandemic-fueled learning loss to a rotating door of superintendents. The school board hired superintendent Crystal Hill this year with the expectation that she will improve students’ academic performance.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released new data reports Wednesday on the 2022-23 school year. Here are a few takeaways.

1. Only 52% of all CMS students scored at or above grade-level proficiency on tests — up from 50.2% last year.

By comparison, 53.6% of all North Carolina students scored at or above grade-level proficiency on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests.

  • “This is not good enough,” Hill told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “It will take a collective effort for us to move the needle, to raise the bar … If we can do this in unstable conditions, knowing that we are stabilized, we are going to blow it out of the park next year.”

2. CMS is not on track to meet some of its goals, but made strides in reading and math.

CMS set a goal to increase the percentage of Black and Hispanic third-grade students with either a Level 4 or 5 (on track for career- and college-readiness) from 15.9% in 2021 to 50% by next year.
  • As of 2022-23, that percentage is 17.9% for Black students and 14.7% for Hispanic.
Another goal is to get 25% of high school students scoring levels 4 and 5 by 2024.
  • The new data shows it currently stands a 9.4%.

But all reading and math composite scores increased at least slightly in the 2022-23 school year.

  • For example, the percentage of students in grades 3-8 who are college and career-ready in reading increased 2% to just over 30%.
  • “Nationally, student achievement gains of between 3% and 5% are considered very appropriate to expect,” said Beth Thompson, CMS chief of strategy and innovation.

The school board will discuss setting new goals for 2024-2029 this Tuesday.

3. There’s still a wide achievement gap between white and Black and Hispanic students.

Across all subjects, Black and Hispanic students are performing worse in reading, math and science than white and Asian students.

  • Hispanic students are also increasingly not finishing high school on time over the last two years. Only 70.8% graduated within four years last year, according to DPI’s data.
  • CMS’ overall graduation rate is 82.6% — a 0.7% decline from the 2021-22 school year.

4. Absences are still alarmingly high.

More than 23% of students were chronically absent in 2022-23, meaning they missed 10% or more of days.

  • In 2021-22, chronic absenteeism affected 29.4% of students, up from 13.6% in the year before the pandemic.

5. 16 schools were removed from the state’s low-performing list, but 25 schools were added.

More than half of schools earned a school performance letter grade of at least a C. Forty schools improved their letter grade.

But 25 schools were added to the low-performing list. It now includes 58 schools, listed in no particular order:

  • Albemarle Road Elementary: D
  • Albemarle Road Middle: D
  • Charlotte East Language Academy: D
  • J. M. Alexander Middle: F
  • Ashley Park PreK-8 School: F
  • Whitewater Middle: D
  • Berryhill School: F
  • Cochrane Collegiate Academy: F
  • David Cox Road Elementary: D
  • Devonshire Elementary: F
  • Marie G Davis School: D
  • Berewick Elementary: D
  • Druid Hills Academy: F
  • Eastway Middle: F
  • Elizabeth Traditional Elem: D
  • Garinger High School: D
  • Greenway Park Elementary: D
  • Alexander Graham Middle: D
  • Harding University High School: D
  • Lawrence Orr Elementary: D
  • Hickory Grove Elementary: F
  • Hornets Nest Elementary: F
  • Croft Community School: D
  • Huntingtowne Farms Elementary: D
  • James Martin Middle: F
  • Gov’s Village STEM (Upper): D
  • Kennedy Middle: D
  • Lebanon Road Elementary: D
  • Mallard Creek Elementary: D
  • Martin Luther King, Jr Middle: F
  • McClintock Middle: D
  • Mountain Island Lake Academy: D
  • River Oaks Academy: D
  • Gov’s Village STEM (Lower): D
  • J. H. Gunn Elementary: D
  • Northeast Middle: D
  • Northridge Middle: D
  • South Pine Academy: D
  • Oakdale Elementary: F
  • Bruns Avenue Elementary: F
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Virtual School: D
  • Pinewood Elementary: F
  • Ranson Middle: F
  • Reid Park Academy: D
  • Ridge Road Middle: D
  • Stoney Creek Elementary: D
  • Southwest Middle School: F
  • Statesville Road Elementary: D
  • Thomasboro Academy: F
  • Tuckaseegee Elementary: D
  • University Park Creative Arts: F
  • University Meadows Elementary: F
  • Walter G. Byers School: D
  • West Mecklenburg High School: D
  • Wilson STEM Academy: D
  • Julius L. Chambers High School: D
  • Villa Heights Elementary: D
  • Mint Hill Elementary School: D
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