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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY — Test scores, school performance grades and high school graduation rates are up this year in Rockingham County, according to data released Sept. 7 by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

“These are results we should celebrate!” Shotwell said in the email to the Rockingham County Board of Education. “Our schools and students have worked hard and we will continue to strive for excellence.”

Student proficiency nears state average

For the 2016-2017 year, 4.7 percent more Rockingham County Schools students scored at or above their grade level in state tests compared to the previous year.

Composite results in reading, math and other required tests show that an average of 57.2 percent of students in Rockingham County Schools scored at or above grade level. This percentage is only two points short of the state average of 59.2 percent.

Comparatively, in the previous year, RCS scored at 52.5 percent, 5.8 percentage points lower than that year’s state average of 58.3.

“I just have to give my hats off to our teachers and support staff and principals for working just so diligently on assessing where their kids are and helping them achieve,” said Superintendent Rodney Shotwell.

For individual schools, however, percentages ranged drastically.  

At the elementary school level, the lowest performing school was Draper Elementary with 38.4 percent scoring at or above grade level, while the highest performing was Bethany Elementary with 72.5 percent.

The lowest performing middle school was Reidsville Middle at 44 percent, while Rockingham County Middle performed the highest at 66.9.

Morehead High School held the lowest percentage at 33.7 percent and Rockingham Early College High School topped the district at 93.5 percent of students scoring at or above grade level.

With this percentage, RECHS stood as among the top 40 schools out of more than 2000 across the state for performance composite percent grade level proficient.

“It goes back to the faculty and the staff over there,” Shotwell said of RECHS. “…They take a great interest in working with the students one-on-one over there and making sure they're successful, so if they're starting to falter in a college class or a high school class, there's somebody there to help redirect them, get in contact with the parents and make sure that they continue on the path to success.”

Rockingham County improves school performance grades

While some Rockingham County school performance grade scores dropped slightly, 2016-2017 school performance grades across the board either remained the same or improved compared to the previous year.

RECHS remains the county’s only A grade school.

While no schools earned a grade of B last year, this year Bethany Elementary, Central Elementary, New Vision School of Math, Science and Technology, Wentworth Elementary and Rockingham County Middle School all rose from Cs to Bs.

Leaksville-Spray Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Holmes Middle and Morehead High each rose from a D to a C. These schools are joined by the schools that again scored Cs, including Douglass Elementary, Huntsville Elementary, Dillard Elementary, Monroeton Elementary, South End Elementary, Stoneville Elementary, Williamsburg Elementary, Western Rockingham Middle, the charter school Bethany Community Middle, McMichael High, Reidsville High and Rockingham County High.

This leaves only Draper Elementary, Moss Street Elementary and Reidsville Middle at the D level, making them the county’s lowest performing schools.

While four schools managed to get off the state’s list of low-performing schools, Draper Elementary, Moss Street Elementary and Reidsville Middle remain with improvements to make.   

Low-performing status is given to public schools that have an overall SPG grade of D or F and only met or did not meet EVAAS Growth Status.

Yet again, the county had no F designations in overall SPG grades.

Graduation rates on the rise

Rockingham County Schools also saw improvement to the countywide 4-year cohort graduation rate, reaching 85.4 percent, a full 5.5 percentage points up from the previous year’s 79.9 percent and a record high for the district.

This rate is only 1.1 points shy of the statewide average of 86.5 percent.

“It's a very big deal,” Shotwell said. “What I want to say to is it’s not like we jumped 20 points in a year or two years. We've done this systematically over a period of time so that it’s sustainable.”

According to the superintendent, this was achieved by working with and focusing on individual students to help them succeed.

“One of the things that we're doing is that we're meeting kids where they are and trying to find their unique needs,” he said. “… I think the other thing too is that our administrators at the high school level are looking at students not only in their senior year but looking at them in their ninth, 10th and 11th grade year to make sure they're on track to graduation.”

RECHS maintains the highest graduation rate at more than 95 percent. Following behind, Morehead hit 87.7 percent, Reidsville hit 86.5, Rockingham hit 86.2 and McMichael hit 83.8.

The countywide five-year cohort graduation rate dropped from 83 percent to 82.5, five points short of the 87.5 percent state average.

Looking forward

Despite Rockingham County’s many improved statistics in 2016-2017 NCDPI data results, Shotwell remains dedicated to improving Rockingham County Schools.

“We can never settle for where we are,” he said. “… I think with some of the diagnostic tools that the General Assembly has given us like the mClass Reading, the assessments we use for our K-2 students, our teachers have gotten used to using those assessment tools and they use that when they're making a plan for helping students to improve. I think as long as those programs are still funded at the state level, we're going to show growth just like the folks at DPI and the General Assembly want us to do.”

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Contact Justyn Melrose at (336) 349 -4331, ext. 6140 and follow @JMelrose_RCN on Twitter.

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