On Sept. 4, the state released the accountability results for the 2018-19 school year. Guilford County Schools’ elementary and middle school students have scored higher on state tests in every subject and at every grade level.

I credit the progress we’ve made to the focused work and collaborative efforts of our teachers, leaders, support staff, students and families. The improvement suggests that the strategic investments our Board of Education has made in curriculum development, instructional materials and supplies, and ongoing professional development for our educators are paying dividends in the classroom for all students.

A few points of pride:

  • Grade-level proficiency in English Language Arts/Reading in Grades 3-8 went from 52.2% in 2018 to 55.5% in 2019.
  • Grade-level proficiency in mathematics in grades 3-8 increased from 50.4% in 2018 to 52.5% in 2019.
  • Students posted the most significant gains in science in grades 5 and 8, with grade-level proficiency rates going from 66.7% in 2019 to 72.4% in 2019.

These increases were made in every racial/ethnic group, a credit to our focus on equity for all students. A special congratulations goes to Southwest Elementary School for having the highest growth index of any elementary school in the state. Nearly three-quarters, or 73.5%, of Guilford County schools met or exceeded growth in 2019, mirroring the state.

The GCS graduation rate held steady at 89.1%, placing GCS higher than four of the five largest districts in the state. Ten GCS high schools posted perfect graduation rates, and eight more had rates above 90% but below 100%. The district has cut the graduation rate gap between various student demographic groups in half during the past 10 years.

High school measures in biology and English II decreased, but remain above 55%. Some of that decrease can be attributed to changes in the process for calculating Math 1 scores, because scores for students who take Math 1 in middle school are no longer counted at the high school level.

The state used a new assessment for Math 3 in 2019, which is also included in high schools’ overall proficiency rate calculations for the first time. GCS’ proficiency rate on the new End of Course (EOC) test was 46%.

Despite these challenges, GCS reduced the number of state-identified low-performing schools from 42 in 2018 to 36 in 2019. More than 34% of GCS schools earned an A or B school performance grade in 2019 as compared to 31.9% in 2018. The number of C schools increased slightly to 31.1% from 29.4, while the percentage of D or F schools decreased from 38.7% to 34.5%. For the first time since 2015-16 all six schools with Alternative Accountability ratings showed that they were maintaining progress. Three of the six schools, Gateway, Scale- Greensboro and Pruette Scale, showed that they were progressing again for the first time since 2015-16. These rating systems were implemented in 2014-15 in which all schools started maintaining status.

I am proud of the successes we’ve seen in the past year. I am also immensely grateful for the Guilford County community and all of our partners who continuously support our schools and embrace our students. I know that our challenges are great and achievement gaps persist.

Nevertheless, I hope you can see the progress we have made as a district as we strive to transform learning and life outcomes for our students.

Thank you for all you do to make increased achievement for GCS students a reality.

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Sharon L. Contreras, Ph.D., is superintendent, of Guilford County Schools.

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