The teacher effectiveness ratings released this week provide rich material for analysis and debate. I just got the spreadsheet from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, and I'll be poring through it to see what trends emerge.
But I couldn't resist a quick search to see which schools fall at the top and the bottom for our area. First I looked for those with the highest percentage of teachers who exceeded the state's goals for student growth on state exams. I eliminated those with fewer than 20 teachers, where percentages are so dramatically swayed by one or two individuals. That shuts out most elementary schools, because state testing starts in third grade and only fourth- and fifth-grade teachers have students with a previous year's scores to base growth projections on.
Here's what came up:
1. Weddington Middle (Union County), 77.8 percent of 45 teachers.
2. Highland School of Technology (Gaston County magnet), 73.9 percent of 23 teachers.
3. South Point High (Gaston County), 68.9 percent of 45 teachers.
|Porter Ridge High|
5. Marvin Ridge High (Union County), 60.5 percent of 38 teachers.
6. Mount Holly Middle (Gaston County), 59.3 percent of 27 teachers.
7. Lake Norman High (Iredell-Statesville), 53.6 percent of 56 teachers.
8-9. Winkler Middle (Cabarrus County), 52.5 percent of 40 teachers.
8-9. Porter Ridge High (Union County), 52.5 percent of 40 teachers.
10. South Charlotte Middle (CMS), 51.4 percent of 35 teachers.
Statewide, 23 percent of teachers exceeded the target.
I also sorted for schools with the highest percentage of teachers who failed to meet the growth target. Again eliminating schools with fewer than 20 teachers, they are:
1. Hopewell High (CMS), 56.8 percent of 44 teachers.
2. Vance High (CMS), 54 percent of 50 teachers.
3. Harding High (CMS), 53.2 percent of 47 teachers.
4. Statesville High (Iredell-Statesville), 51.5 percent of 33 teachers.
5. North Meck High (CMS), 50 percent of 44 teachers.
6. West Meck High (CMS), 48.4 percent of 62 teachers.
7. Friday Middle (Gaston County), 47.8 percent of 23 teachers.
8. Grier Middle (Gaston County), 46.2 percent of 26 teachers.
9. Hunter Huss High (Gaston County), 45.9 percent of 37 teachers.
10. Independence High (CMS), 44.3 percent of 61 teachers.
Twenty-one percent of all N.C. teachers fell short of the growth target.
My search included district and charter schools in Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Iredell, Catawba, Lincoln and Gaston counties.
I'm intrigued by these numbers, but I want to be clear that this is not a definitive picture of academic quality at these schools. It's worth noting that all schools on the "worst" list had teachers with top ratings, and most on the "best" list had teachers who fell short. There's still plenty of room for debate on whether the value-added formula can really turn student test scores into a meaningful measure of how good a teacher is. But these ratings are shaping education decisions and teachers' careers, so they're worth exploring.