The decision to revamp N.C. testing put a major kink in Project LIFT's plan to chart five years of academic trends at West Charlotte High and its eight feeder schools. Test scores from 2012, which were supposed to form the baseline for measuring changes that started this year, won't bear much relationship to results on new tests that will be evolving over the next couple of years.
For anyone who has missed it, Project LIFT is a $55 million, five-year investment from foundations that want to make a significant difference in long-struggling westside schools. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools created a groundbreaking public-private partnership that gives the private donor board a strong role in hiring, firing and other key educations decisions.
As you might imagine, when you have groups such as the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Leon Levine Foundation and the C.D. Spangler Foundation putting up $10 million each, they want solid data on whether their money is making a difference. And CMS leaders want answers about whether Project LIFT strategies, from teacher recruitment efforts to year-round schools, produce strong enough results to justify spending public money to expand them.
One year isn't nearly enough to prove the project a success or failure, but it'll be interesting to see the tracking start.