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Officials: Cumberland County's low-performing Tier 1 schools making progress


The Cumberland County Board of Education's Curriculum Committee learned Thursday that all of the school system's low-performing Tier 1 schools are making progress at varying rates.

The Curriculum Committee voted to accept a formative data assessment on the Cumberland County public schools. These assessments provide educators with timely, critical evidence that indicates a student's skill level, mastery of concepts and progress toward curriculum goals.

The data will be presented to the full board during its next regular meeting on April 12.

In other business, the Policy Committee voted to recommend continuing with an optional mask policy. The full board will make the final decision on April 12. By state law, the board is required to vote on its face coverings policy each month.

The data discussed by the Curriculum Committee is based on the most recent benchmark assessment data, where all schools fall into a specific tier.

The system has 23 schools that fall into Tier 1, which is designated as low-performing by the N.C. General Assembly.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction typically publishes a list of the lowest-performing schools and districts.

These are considered priority schools, where the district is working to provide additional resources and support to improve student achievement.

The data was presented by Chief Academic Officer Stacey Wilson-Norman, Assistant Superintendent Jane Fields and Melody Chalmers McClain, assistant superintendent of District Transformation and Strategic Initiatives.

“I think the most recent data tells us the schools are making progress,” Wilson-Norman said. “Some schools are making rapid progress as we recover from COVID, but all schools are making progress.

"Since we’ve been impacted by COVID,” she added, “we just wanted to know how the schools were doing.”

The school system has 89 schools.

Tier 1 schools require intensive support, which is determined by the needs of each school. They may need, for example, an additional instructor, more supplies, more emotional support or smaller classrooms.

Low-performing districts and schools in the state are defined by the N.C. General Assembly and are based on the school performance grade and Education Value-Added Assessment System growth. SAS EVAAS provides self-paced learning videos, detailed help files and instructor-led training for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The customized software system is available to all school districts statewide.

Low-performing schools are those that receive a school performance grade of D or F and a school growth score of "met expected growth" or "not met expected growth" as defined by the general statutes.

“We provided it because it had been requested,” Wilson-Norman said of the data after the meeting. “Teachers use the formative data all the time for how to better support the kids. It’s just a checkpoint. Us keeping track of how our students in our schools are performing.”

In other business, the Student Support Services Committee received an update on the district’s required uniform policy.

Schools in the county that are interested in operating with a specific uniform policy are required to get board approval. Before that, they must gather input from stakeholders, such as staff and families.

But it's the board’s ultimate decision on whether a specific school can initiate a uniform change or withdraw the uniform policy.

As of the current school year, 30 schools had required uniform policies. T.C. Berrien Elementary School and Ireland Drive Middle School had policies in place, but those schools are closing.

For the 2022-23 school year, the following schools want to discontinue requiring uniforms: Douglas Byrd Middle, Margaret Willis Elementary, Sunnyside Elementary, J.W. Seabrook Elementary, Ponderosa Elementary, Manchester Elementary, J.W. Coon Elementary and Walker-Spivey Elementary.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Cumberland County, school committees, low-performing schools, masks, uniforms