Caldwell County graduation rate well above state; gains in student performance

LENOIR, NC (September 1, 2016)…Caldwell County’s graduation rate continues to climb, while more students make gains in student learning with 95% of schools earning grades C or better in the third year of the state’s A-F grading system as reported by the State Board of Education.

The Caldwell County Schools four-year cohort graduation rate reached a high of 90.8%, exceeding the state average for the eighth consecutive year and the district’s upward growth trend continues for school performance, as 25 percent of schools achieved As and Bs and schools achieving Cs gained higher levels of academic growth and improvement over last year’s performance.

“The school grade is generally a reflection of a state administered test at the end of the school year in elementary and middle school classrooms,” said Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone. “The high schools have several other indicators factored into their grade, but essentially student test scores on end-of-grade and end-of-course assessments make the determination whether a school is marked A, B, C, D or F.”

School designations of A-F are based on two measurements: 80 percent student achievement, which is the percent of students at Level 3 and above on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests as well as the percent of high school students meeting the benchmarks for the ACT, ACT WorkKeys, and math course rigor, and 20 percent school accountability growth. The school’s graduation rate is also factored into the letter grades for high schools

The School Performance Grades were presented to the State Board of Education members this week during their monthly meeting. Legislation passed in 2013 requires the inclusion of School Performance Grades as part of the North Carolina School Report Cards.

“Typically, a letter grade of a C would translate into an average school. I would invite state legislators into any classroom to tell our teachers they are doing an average job,” said Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone. “We know better; our schools in Caldwell County historically outperform surrounding counties, exceed state averages and earn annual recognition for innovation and academic success.”

Elementary and middle schools’ achievement scores are based on end-of-grade reading and mathematics tests at the 3-8 grade levels; an end-of-grade science test at grades 5 and 8, and if applicable, end-of-course tests in Math I and Biology.

The high school achievement score is based on student performance on Math I, English II and Biology end-of-course tests, and on the percentage of students who score 17 or above on The ACT (UNC System’s minimum composite score requirement), the percentage of students who achieve a Silver Certificate or better on the ACT WorkKeys, the percentage of students who successfully complete Math III, and the school’s four-year cohort graduation rate.

Below are School Performance Grades for Caldwell County Schools in 2015-2016:

prschoolperformancegrades16 chart

School Performance Grades are included on the North Carolina School Report Cards under the School Performance Section. Each school’s academic performance page includes the school’s performance grade and student performance on other key academic measures. K-8 schools also receive a separate letter grade for reading and math performance.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone suggests that parents talk to their school’s principal and teachers and to look at all of the school measures reflected in the North Carolina School Report Cards to determine how their child’s school is doing in comparison to others in the district and across the state.

“I encourage all parents to assign their own letter grade to their child’s teacher and school,” said Dr. Stone. “That’s the letter grade that matters, not necessarily the state mandated grade that only uses its test or a few indicators in high school to determine how our schools and teachers are doing. I value the grade from our parents more than the grade from the NC General Assembly.”

There are a number of materials available online to help explain the School Performance Grades including a Background Brief and responses to Frequently Asked Questions. These documents can be accessed on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website – – under Highlights.