Wake, Durham schools encouraged by state performance grades

Overall, more North Carolina schools are meeting or exceeding academic performance expectations. Many of them are earning "A's" and "B's" from the state according to a new report out Wednesday from the State Board of Education.

Lakewood Elementary in Durham is making a dramatic turnaround.

"This, this news today," Jovonia Lewis laughed. "This is icing on the cake."

Lewis, a mom of two, who couldn't contain her excitement.

Lakewood Elementary, where her sons attend, just received a "C" for its school academic performance from the state board of education.

That's a huge improvement from its "F" grade in 2018.

Lewis enrolled her 9- and 6-year-old sons at Lakewood this year despite hearing about the school's scores.

"It's not about what they do on a test," Lewis said. "It's about developing the whole child, and that's what this school does."

The grading system looks at end-of-grade test scores and growth among other things.

Lakewood, a school with a large number of minority students was at risk of being taken over by the state and run by a charter if its "F" grade persisted.

"Staffing is everything. It is everything. And when you bring in staff members that are committed; that work hard; that are selfless, the sky is the limit," said James Hopkins, principal of Lakewood Elementary.

In Wake County on Wednesday, administrators celebrated academic growth at Fox Road Elementary, where 25 percent of students are learning to speak English.

Educators credit dedicated staff, new initiatives and parent involvement as the reason students improved in all subjects by 53 percent last year.

Graduation rates for both counties are also up.

"The picture is a little bit more positive this year but one of the things we like to remind ourselves that as this information comes out, test scores are only one measure we look at when we look at the health of our schools," said Brad McMillen, assistant superintendent for Data Research and Accountability for Wake County Public Schools.

Fox Road received a "C" grade from the state.

WCPSS has two school with "F" grades, while Durham has one.

The NC Association of Educators are against the letter grades from the state. The organization says:

"We should be giving our educators and students the resources they need to be successful, rather than wasting precious time and money on a punitive grading system that relies on high-stakes testing."

To see how your school district did, click here.
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