Cumberland County students showed gains in academic areas where the school focused instructional and coaching resources last year.
Director of Schools Janet Graham said all schools will be reviewing their academic and growth data.
“Many see that they’re really not that far. Just two or more kids improving and they can cross that hurdle,” she said. “We will be making good use of the data this year and looking at what barriers they may have and how we can overcome those.”
She reviewed some of the data from last year’s state-mandated testing programs and accountability information with members of the Cumberland County Board of Education during its Aug. 22 meeting.
Achievement measures how many students are considered “on-track” or to have “mastered” content for each subject.
•Math: 40.8% school district, 40.8% state
•English/language arts: 35.6% school district, 33.7% state
•Social studies, 42.5% school district, 40.9% state
In school-level data, South Cumberland had 58.4% of students on-track or mastered in math, followed by Homestead with 45.8%, Brown Elementary with 44.4%, Pine View with 44.1%, Martin Elementary at 40.8%, Stone at 37.9%, Crab Orchard at 34.6%, Pleasant Hill at 32.6% and North Cumberland at 30%.
In English, South Cumberland led elementary schools with 48.4% followed by Homestead Elementary at 42.4%, Pine View at 41.6%, Martin at 35.7%, Brown Elementary at 33.4%, Stone Elementary at 33.1%, Pleasant Hill at 32.6%, Crab Orchard at 31% and North Cumberland at 25.1%.
At the high school level, Cumberland County recorded the following achievement scores:
•Algebra I: 28.4% school district, 27.4% state
•Algebra II: 30.8% school district, 27.4% state
•Geometry: 38.4% school district, 33.9% state
•English I: 35.9% school district, 32.7% state
•English II: 48% school district, 42.7% state
•U.S. history: 29.2% school district, 28.6% state
Graham said academic coaches had focused on geometry the year before.
“We had such a difficult time with that prior to that,” Graham said. “The things that we focus on are the things that we will improve. We have to decide what those are and how we will make that happen.
“All of our schools are working hard.”
Cumberland County High School had 24.3% of student on-track or mastered in Algebra I, 35.7% in Algebra II, 35.4% in geometry, 32.1% in English I and 52.5% in English II.
Stone Memorial High School had 33.6% of students on-track or mastered in Algebra I, 32.3% in Algebra II, 43.7% in geometry, 41% in English I and 46.9% in English II.
Phoenix High School academic data is included in the accompanying story on new and expanded programs at the school.
The state also looks at academic growth, measuring how much a student has gained in knowledge from the year before. This measurement does not consider “mastered” or “on-track,” but educators say they need academic growth to make academic gains.
Growth is measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 meaning students grew the expected amount and scores of 1 and 2 below expected growth and scores of 4 and 5 above expected growth.
Countywide, student growth rated 3 overall, with scores of 5 in literacy, 2 in numeracy, 3 in literacy and numeracy and 2 in social studies.
The school system has also been working to develop intervention protocols to reduce chronic absenteeism, defined as 18 days or more missed during a school year. The state does not consider excused or unexcused absences, looking only at the total number of days missed.
In the elementary schools, the county chronic absenteeism rate decreased from 10.1% in 2017-’18 to 9.3% in 2018-’19. Homestead Elementary’s chronic absenteeism rate decreased the most from 10.3% to 5.5%.
“Most of our schools declined,” Graham said.
At the high school level, chronic absenteeism declined from 20.6% in 2017-’18 to 17.5% in 2018-’19. CCHS dropped from 19.9% to 15.1% while SMHS went from 17.6% to 15.7%. The Phoenix School chronic absenteeism rate fell from 66.7% to 57.1% for the year.
“High schools always have more of a problem with this,” Graham said. “Seniors are hard to keep in school. They have their credits. They’re 18. There’s a lot of reasons they may decide school is not for them on a particular day.”
The state also looks at how many high school graduates are “ready graduates.” The data in the 2019 report comes from the 2017-’18 school year, like the graduation rate reported later in the fall.
Ov the 544 students graduating Cumberland County schools in 2018, 43.6% were considered college or career ready.
The state defines college and career ready as students earning a 21 or higher on the ACT; completing four early postsecondary opportunities such as dual enrollment college credits; completing two early postsecondary opportunities and earning an industry certification; or completing two early postsecondary opportunities and earning a score of military readiness on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Armed Forces Qualifying Test.
SMHS had 55.3% ready graduates, CCHS had 44.3% ready graduates and Phoenix School had 6.2% ready graduates.
“We pound into their heads, ‘You’ve got to get a diploma,’ but if they don’t know what comes after that diploma, we have failed them,” Graham said.
Graham said schools will use this data to develop individual school improvement plans.
“We look to see where our challenges are and where our successes are, and what we feel are the reasons for the challenges and successes,” she said.
The state uses the data to issue a district accountability score. It looks at overall student data and subgroup data, which looks at the same areas for students who are black, Hispanic or Native American; economically disadvantaged; English-language learners; and students with disabilities.
Overall, Cumberland County was determined to be “advancing” with a score of 2.8 out of a possible 4.
“That means we’re doing what we need to do and we’re making the growth that’s expected of us,” Graham said.