Fourteen GCS Schools Named Schools of Excellence

When Principal Cynthia Kremer began the 2010-11 school year, one number stuck in her mind - 79.9.

That was the percentage of the students at Guilford Middle who were proficient on their End-of-Grade and End-of-Course tests last year, giving the school a designation by the state's ABCs report as a School of Progress with High Growth.

Kremer knew her students could close that 10th-of-a-point gap to become a School of Distinction. So she and her staff evaluated each student, giving up their Saturdays to develop and schedule remediation classes based on their needs - fun, challenging enrichment programs for those who didn't need retesting, and intensive, small-group study teams for those who did.

Their hard work paid off - Guilford Middle students achieved 83 percent proficiency, earning the School of Distinction status.

This year, 29 GCS schools were named Schools of Distinction in the state's ABCs accountability system, which measures both test results and academic growth. In 2010, 22 district schools received that designation, which denotes schools that have 80 to 90 percent of students earning a three or above on End-of-Grade or End-of-Course testing and expected or high growth.

An additional 14 schools are considered Honor Schools of Excellence or Schools of Excellence, the highest category recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, with 90 to 100 percent earning passing scores and expected or high growth. Honor Schools of Excellence, which are those that also met their Adequate Yearly Progress criteria, accounted for 13 of those 14. More than 1/3 of all GCS schools were in the top two categories designated by the state.

No schools were designated as low-performing for the 2010-11 school year, achieving a goal of the district's 2012 Strategic Plan. The plan also set goals for five schools to be designated either as Honor Schools of Excellence or Schools of Excellence and 20 schools to be considered Schools of Distinction, which GCS outperformed at 14 and 29 respectively.

"GCS has not only exceeded our Strategic Plan goal but has done so a year ahead of our deadline," says Chief Academic Officer Beth Folger. "Our students, teachers and staff have done an excellent job of reaching each and every student and giving them the support they need to achieve greatness."

Forty-seven schools, up from 45 in 2010, were considered Schools of Progress, with expected or high growth and 60 to 79 percent of students earning test scores of three or above. The number of priority schools decreased from 25 in 2010 to 16 in 2011. Priority schools are those that have fewer than 50 percent passing scores but made expected or high growth, or those that did not make expected growth and had between 50 and 59 percent passing scores.

The mean performance composite score for 113 GCS schools evaluated was 74.5, an increase from 72.5 in 2010. In 2008, prior to the Strategic Plan's implementation, the average score was 62.0. The percentage of schools that made expected growth dipped slightly to 90.5 this year, from 91.4 in 2010. High growth was recorded by 52.6 percent of schools, versus 56.9 percent in 2010.