At the very core of the issues surrounding public education in Wake County is—or should be—student achievement. Whether the topic under the microscope is student assignment, diversity, pre-kindergarten programs, teacher excellence, or anything else, in the end, it’s about helping ALL children succeed in the classroom.
Vision 2017, the WCPSS Strategic Plan approved by the School Board in August 2012 states:
We must ensure that students come first, talent is nurtured, excellence is the norm, and opportunities are equitable. Our success will be measured by continued improvement in the effectiveness of teaching and learning as well as accelerated student achievement.
So how do some of these issues affect impact the classroom?
- Assignment shapes a student body. A “neighborhood school” limits the student body to those who live near that school, often resulting in a homogeneous school population. A charter school, which is not required to provide meals or transportation, limits its student body to those who can afford to provide lunch and transportation for their child. Countless studies demonstrate that socio-economic segregation is detrimental to student achievement, and that all students benefit from a diverse learning environment.
- Strong teachers—educators who have adequate time for effective mentoring, professional development, and collaboration, sufficient resources and support services, manageable classroom sizes, and are paid a competitive salary—are key to academic success. The annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher indicates that inadequate funding for education has driven teacher morale down to its lowest level in over twenty years, and many are likely to leave the profession within the next five years.
- Access to pre-Kindergarten programs. Students who come “ready to learn” when they begin kindergarten have a greater chance of success—both in the classroom and beyond. Evidence indicates that “high quality early childhood programs increase graduation rates by as much as 44 percent”.
The bottom line is that many issues, both in and outside of the classroom, affect student achievement.
- Graduation reached 80%
- 82.2% of seniors who began high school four years earlier graduated on time
(a 1.2% increase from the previous year)
- Students deemed “college and career ready” increased by 1.7
- More students were considered to be proficient
- The number of students meeting the new college and career standards increased
- Two-thirds of Wake County students met or exceeded the more rigorous state standards for proficiency
(which were implemented in 2012)
- The districtwide proficiency rate reached 66.6%, an increase from 64.8% in 2012-2013
- Durant Road Elementary showed an overall increase in performance of almost 8 percentage points.
- Olds Elementary, experienced an overall 16.6 percentage point gain in performance.
- Smith Elementary realized a 13.3 percentage-point jump in Grade 3 reading and a 6.6 point jump in Grade 3 math.
- Athens Drive High, experienced an 11.5 percentage point increase in Math 1.
- This was the second year students were tested under the NC Standard Course of Study.
- The plan incorporates the Common Core State Standards and the NC Essential Standards.
These results are from the State Department of Public Instruction