​Nash schools show improvement on test scores

Sep 8, 2023

Nash County Public Schools celebrated three years of steady improvement in districtwide academic performance scores Thursday at a well-attended media event.

Steve Ellis, the school system’s superintendent, told the gathering that for the past 10 years the school district was among the poorest performing in the state. Improvements in performance metrics over a three-year span have led to a better standing among the state’s school districts, Ellis said.

“I can say we are no longer a low-performing school district,” Ellis announced. That news was met with a round of applause.

According to information from the school district public information office, in a comprehensive three-year assessment spanning the academic years 2018-19, 2021-22, and 2022-23, Nash County Public Schools has exhibited a clear upward trajectory in school performance.

In the 2018-19 academic year, four schools exceeded expectations, 10 schools met growth expectations and 10 did not meet growth expectations. Following the pandemic in the 2021-22 academic year, eight schools exceeded expectations, six met expectations and 10 did not meet expectations.

In the 2022-23 academic year, Ellis announced that 10 schools exceeded expectations and 10 met expectations.

Among the schools that did not meet expectations last year were six elementary schools. Fairview, D.S. Johnson, Williford, Englewood, Winstead and Baskerville elementary schools were joined by Rocky Mount High and Nash Central Middle in not meeting expectations, according to school district spokeswoman Heather Louise Finch.

In explaining the School Performance Grades system, school district Accountability Director Robin Griffin said it provides parents with grades ranging from A to F based on factors such as test scores, course rigor and graduation rates.

The assessment, Griffin said, “is based on a combination of performance and growth scores.”

A school’s performance accounts for 80 percent of the grade assessed, Griffin said, while growth accounts for the remaining 20 percent.

“This comprehensive approach ensures a fair assessment of North Carolina schools,” Griffin said.

Nash County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Davis said the districtwide improvements will benefit the county as a whole, especially in the recruitment of new employers.

“One of the things industrial recruiters look at is our schools,” Davis said. “This will be a great plus to us in recruiting new industries to Nash County.”

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction presented the state’s test results from the 2022-23 school year Wednesday to the N.C. State Board of Education. Statewide, North Carolina students are continuing to recover ground lost to the COVID pandemic, with gains across virtually all grades, subjects and student subgroups, state school officials noted in a press release.

Schools also showed progress on accountability measures, according to the release. More than one in four of the state’s 2,598 public schools earned a School Performance Grade of an A or B, with nearly two out of every three receiving a C or better, state school officials said.