Bill would shift focus in NC schools away from achievement, toward student growth


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — State legislators are considering wading into the argument between growth and proficiency.

That is to say: Is it more important to make sure as many students as possible reach a certain standard, or to make sure that each student makes some progress during the academic year?

Critics say a sharp focus on proficiency might mean that teachers only focus on students who are on the borderline of reaching the standard — reading at a third-grade level — ignoring students who are doing well and will obviously pass and students who are doing so poorly they’re unlikely ever to pass.

It’s an argument teachers have been having for years. Right now, North Carolina schools give proficiency more weight than growth when assessing how well schools do. But a new bill could put them on even ground.

“In my view, education is growth,” said state Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union).

Horn is co-chair of the House K-12 Education Committee and one of the sponsors of the bill that would change the formula for how schools are graded in North Carolina. Right now, schools’ assessments are based 20 percent on student growth and 80 percent on proficiency.

Read House Bill 322

Horn’s bill would make them 50-50.

Rep. Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth), another committee co-chair, doesn’t support the bill.

She believes the emphasis should be on achievement. And she worries that changing the formula will confuse the public.

“I think if you change the blend, that does a disservice to the lower-performing schools, because we want to fix the problem, not mask the problem,” she said.

The North Carolina School Boards Association supports the bill. The association says it will give parents a more accurate measure of what is going on in their children’s schools.

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