County schools show improvement in grade

By: By Bob Shiles -

LUMBERTON — The Public Schools of Robeson County mirrored the state trend and saw an increase in its school performance grades during the 2016-17 school year, as well as an increase in the graduation rate.

The state Department of Instruction released the 2016-17 accountability scores for the state’s 115 school districts and charter schools to the State Board of Education on Thursday. The scores show the number of A or B rated schools statewide, now 35.8 percent, to have increased over the 2015-16 school year. Scores also reveal the percentage of D and F schools, 22.6 percent, to be down from the previous year.

According to the DPI report, the state’s graduation rate for four-year high schools jumped from last year’s 85.9 percent to 86.5 percent.

North Carolina’s public schools have set a record graduation rate for a 12th consecutive year, according to the DPI.

Shanita Wooten, the newly named superintendent for the Robeson County Public Schools, said in a statement that she is pleased with the school district’s accountability results, including test scores.

“During the 2016-17 school year, the Public Schools of Robeson County endured a number of issues not normally seen during a school year. Due to the hard work and dedication of the teachers, staff members, administrators, students and parents, we are pleased with our results from the accountability year,” she said. “Scores increased by 2.6 percent from the 2015-16 school year. This is our second year in a row showing improvement.”

Wooten was surely referring to the loss of substantial class time because of Hurricane Matthew, much of which was not made up.

Wooten also praised the district’s success at moving upward the graduation rate.

“Our graduation rate improved almost 1 percent, which is a direct result of schools working to graduate our students on time and ready for college or the workplace. We believe we are moving in the right direction with professional development, addressing the needs of teachers, and striving for continuous improvement for the betterment of our students.”

This was the state’s fourth year at grading schools on an A to F scale. Robeson County had one A school, three B schools, seven C schools, 22 D schools and eight F schools.

The only A rated school was the Early College High School. Red Springs High School was rated B; St. Pauls, Purnell Swett, Fairmont and Lumberton earned a C; and South Robeson High School was rated D.

Elementary and middle schools and their grades are: Deep Branch Elementary, D; East Robeson Primary, B; Fairgrove Middle, D; Fairmont middle, D; Green Grove Elementary, C; Janice C. Hargrave Elementary, C; L. Gilbert Carroll Middle, D; Littlefield Middle, D; Long Branch Elementary, D; Lumberton Jr. High, D; Magnolia Elementary, D; Orrum Middle, D; and Oxendine Elementary, D.

Also, Parkton Elementary, D; Pembroke Elementary, D; Pembroke Middle, F; Peterson Elementary, F; Piney Grove Elementary, D; Prospect Elementary, D; R.B. Dean Elementary, F; Rex Rennert elementary, F; Red Springs Middle, D; Rowland Norment Elementary, C; St. Pauls Elementary, D; Saint Pauls Middle, D; Tanglewood Elementary, B; Southside Ash Pole Elementary, F; Townsend Middle, F; Union Chapel, D; Union Elementary, D; W.C. Knuckles, F; Rosenwald Elementary, F; and Rowland Middle, D.

The county’s two charter schools, Southeastern Academy, and CIS Academy were also graded. Southeastern Academy received a B grade, while CIS Academy was graded C.

School Performance Grades are based 80 percent on the school’s achievement score and 20 percent on students’ academic growth. The only exception is if a school meets expected growth but inclusion of the school’s growth reduces the school’s performance score and grade.

According to the DPI, a majority, 56.5 percent, of the state’s high schools earned a grade of B or better. When evaluated for growth, elementary schools were more likely to meet growth than middle or high schools.

Elementary and middle schools’ performance grades are based on test scores alone, while high school grades are based on test results, graduation rates, and indicators of students’ readiness for college or a career.

“It’s great news that the top-line trends are in the right direction,” Mark Johnson, state superintendent of Public Schools, said. “We can all be proud, for instance, that most schools meet or exceed growth.”

Three members of the Robeson County Board of Education contacted by The Robesonian, Mike Smith, Dwaune Smith and Peggy Wilkins-Chavis, said that they have not yet had a chance to review the information released Thursday to the State Board of Education.

“But any upward movement is good,” said Mike Smith. “We still have a lot of ground to cover, but at least we are moving in the right direction.”

Dwayne Smith agreed.

“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “This is a new year and we are now filling open staff positions with qualified people who have skills to make improvements. I feel the morale of our staff is good as we start off the new school year.”

Shanita Wooten Wooten

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.