Grading North Carolina Schools

Grading North Carolina Schools
February 1, 1999



Most North Carolina public schools score a "D" or an "F" when ranked on a traditional 10-point grading scale, according to a study released last year by the John Locke Foundation. The Foundation used the state ABC test scores, Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, and graduation rates to compile its rankings, which are published in the report Grading Our Schools: Annual Report to Parents and Taxpayers on School Performance in North Carolina.

Although state education leaders announced last year that 84 percent of North Carolina schools were "Exemplary," that rating was based not on the number of students who actually performed at or above grade level, but on a school's improvement during the previous two years. However, when the John Locke Foundation rated schools according to how well they actually performed on the most recent tests, only 66.3 percent of North Carolina students in grades three through eight scored at or above grade level, and only 55 percent of high school students scored at or above grade level.

"The emphasis on 'growth' shifts attention from true student achievement to a manufactured 'feel-good' measure,” note report authors A. Douglas Haynes and Jonathan C. Jordan. In fact, based on overall academic performance, only one district in the state merits an "A" grade, none receives a "B," 24 receive a "C," and 91--78.5 percent of the total--receive a "D" or an "F."

"We must address how we govern schools and deliver education," conclude the authors. "There are many different ways in which schooling can be delivered at the dawn of the 21st century," they suggest, "and most don't have to involve bureaucratic government operation of schools with protected franchise monopolies."

An earlier report from the Locke Foundation, Reach for the Stars: A New Plan for Education Reform in North Carolina, had called for higher academic standards under the ABC plan, substantial pay raises for teachers in return for eliminating tenure, and school choice scholarships for students in the state's worst-performing schools.


For more information ...

The September 1998 publication, Grading Our Schools: Annual Report to Parents and Taxpayers on School Performance in North Carolina, by A. Douglas Haynes and Jonathan C. Jordan, is available from the Foundation at 1304 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27605, 919/828-3876. The report also is available through PolicyBot. Point your Web browser to http://www.heartland.org, click on the PolicyBot icon, and request old documents #2177428 (part 1, 16 pp.); #2177429 (part 2, 15 pp.); and #2177430 (part 3, 18 pp.).

The February 1998 publication, Reach for the Stars: A New Plan for Education Reform in North Carolina, by Foundation president John Hood, is also available from the Foundation, and through PolicyBot. Request old documents #2177431 (part 1, 14 pp.); #2177432 (part 2, 15 pp.); and #2177433 (part 3, 12 pp.).