Thursday, November 18, 2010

Racing for reform

I recently posted an item raising the question of what role Charlotte-Mecklenburg school closings might play in North Carolina's quest for federal Race to the Top money. I cited a memo from Chief Accountability Officer Robert Avossa noting that the deadline for CMS's report to the state had been extended from Nov. 8, the day before the board's school closing vote, to Nov. 10, the day after.

Avossa rightly took me to task for asking the question without calling him to get an answer. The deadline was extended for the board's vote, he said this week, but it had nothing to do with impressing the feds to get  money. North Carolina's $400 million and CMS's $15 million share of that have already been locked in, he said.

So why did CMS need to report information about school closings and changes? Even though the money has been awarded, the federal government demands to know what changes are planned for the lowest-performing 5 percent of the state's schools. Districts must choose from a prescribed menu of options, which includes closing.

CMS has 15 schools on that list (see below), including four the board voted to close. Avossa and his crew needed to wait for the board to weigh in before being able to accurately report what would happen. For instance, the fate of Waddell High was up in the air until late that night.

Here's the "bottom 5 percent" list Avossa sent; he notes that the first 12 qualified based on pass rates on state exams and the final three because of graduation rates. I've added any changes to those schools that were approved Nov. 9.

1. Billingsville Elementary.
2. Bruns Avenue Elementary (becoming preK-8).
3. Druid Hills Elementary (becoming preK-8).
4. Reid Park Elementary (becoming preK-8).
5. Sedgefield Elementary.
6. Thomasboro Elementary (becoming preK-8).
7. Walter G. Byers Elementary (becoming preK-8).
8. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle.
9. Hawthorne High School.
10. Pawtuckett Elementary (closing).
11. Bishop Spaugh Middle (closing).
12. J.T. Williams Middle (closing).
13. West Charlotte High.
14. West Mecklenburg High.
15. E.E. Waddell High (closing).


Anonymous said...

Looking at the list I had to chuckle. Could you imagine if the BOE had put West Charlotte on the list?

Anonymous said...

Is Billingsville the school that practically shares the same campus with KIPP charter school?

How about shutting Billingsville down and letting KIPP run the show? Just a pie-in-the-sky thought that would save money and potentially improve student achievement.

2009-2010 KIPP stats:

87% of KIPP 7th graders passed the NC EOG Math test. Entering KIPP, only 49% passed the EOG Math test.

75% of KIPP 6th graders passed the NC EOG Reading test. Before entering KIPP, only 38% were passing the test.

20% of KIPP 5th graders earned a 4 in science on the EOG - THREE TIMES HIGHER than their peers in similar communities.

KIPP/Charlotte Special Education students made 2 years growth in Math and Reading.

KIPP 5th graders grew over 8 points on the EOG in both Reading and Math doubling the average growth in the state of NC.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Nope, Billingsville is across Randolph Road from the old Mint Museum. It's Briarwood Elementary that abuts KIPP.

Anonymous said...

Briarwood. How does this school stack up?

Ann Doss Helms said...

The state recently posted school report cards: It is killing me not to have time to geek out with an Excel spreadsheet and do all the comparisons I normally do. But ... I couldn't resist checking the Briarwood/KIPP question and the results caught me by surprise. The two schools have similar demographics and challenges. The only grade they have in common is fifth (KIPP is 5-8, Briarwood is K-5). Fifth-graders at both schools had virtually the same reading pass rates (around 46 percent, nothing to cheer about), and Briarwood slightly outperforms KIPP in math (63 percent proficient to 59 percent).

BUT ... fifth graders have been at KIPP only one year. The seventh-graders at KIPP (they didn't have eighth last year) had pass rates of 72 percent in reading and 87 percent in math, well above state averages.

Anonymous said...

Billingsville actually did have a change as a result of the board's decision. That is the school most of the Oakhurst Elementary neighborhood children will now be bused to - over 100 additional children.

Anonymous said...

How does that make sense to close Oakhurst and put all of the students at the lowest performing school - Billingsville. Oakhurst has not received anything good out of this. The neighborhood got Morgan for the BED kids - and the neighborhood kids got Billingsville. Billingsville should have been closed - it has been a failure over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Briarwood/KIPP comparison. Especially the stats that put the two schools on fairly equal ground in 5th grade.

Is there a way of comparing the scores of kids who attend Briarwood elementary and continue on to their CMS 6 - 8 home middle school to kids who attend KIPP grades 6 - 8? What grade does the academic plummet that doesn't seem to rebound for kids with similar demographics and challenges begin?

Is this where we are failing the most kids - in middle school?

Anonymous said...

Ann, you guys forgot to report on results of NC Superintendent of Year. It was reported that Gorman was nominated but no report on the winner who happened not to be our superstar sup. This is the second time that he missed out

Anonymous said...

Ann, Chief of Staff, Area Superintendent, Head of Accountability. You've been taken to task by a rising superstar! What a soul cleansing experience it must have been.

Anonymous said...

The Morgan to Oakhurst deal is already bust. The word is that Oakhurst will be made into offices for the Ed Center now that asbestos was convienently discovered. Oakhurst got used.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Interesting on superintendent of the year. Hadn't heard anything about that. Googled and found nominee list but not winner. But ... of all the things that could fall through the cracks with so much news bubbling, I won't lose too much sleep over this.

Anonymous said...

They knew better than to put West Charlotte's name on the list. What's the deal with these Pre-K schools? I thought CMS' mandate was to educate kids k-12.