North Carolina academic growth measure shows Coulwood middle school is anything but average

From WFAE, October 4, 2022, by Ann Doss Helms

According to North Carolina’s school performance grades, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Coulwood STEM Academy is average. The middle school in northwest Charlotte was graded C for the past school year, based mostly on an overall pass rate of 52% on state reading, math and science exams.

But that grade doesn’t tell the full story.

“I don’t think there’s anything average about us,” says Principal Janet Moss.

You’d expect a principal to say that. But Moss has the proof — specifically, a calculation that shows how much academic growth students made over the course of a school year.

Pass rates strongly reflect factors outside a school’s control. Low-poverty schools with large numbers of white and Asian students tend to top the list.

The growth measure gives a shot to schools like Coulwood, a high-poverty Title I school where 90% of students are Black or Hispanic.

North Carolina crunched numbers for 2,532 public schools. Only one, a K-12 charter school located north of Raleigh, came in higher than Coulwood.

Coulwood had the state’s highest rating for growth in math and for English language learners in all subjects combined.

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