A solid report card for Dare County Schools

By on September 15, 2019

Eight schools get B’s, First Flight Middle struggles

Nine of Dare County’s ten schools either met or exceeded academic growth goals over the previous year and all but two earned a B during the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Accountability and School Performance Report Cards recently released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).

First Flight Middle School and Manteo Elementary schools were the only ones to earn a C on the report cards. Manteo Elementary did exceed overall academic growth goals, but First Flight continued to struggle for a second year in a row, falling significantly short of meeting growth goals.

Two schools – Cape Hatteras Secondary School and Manteo Middle School — improved their overall grade over last year, jumping from a C to a B. The only other Dare County school that saw a change in its overall grade from last year was Manteo High School, which fell from an A to a B this time – missing another A by only two points. And Kitty Hawk Elementary School fell short of receiving an A grade by just one point.

Beginning in 2013, the NCDPI began assigning a letter grade to schools as part of its annual School Accountability Report. Eighty percent of a school’s grade is based on achievement derived from standardized testing, while the remaining 20% is based on academic growth.

A school’s growth index scale represents the amount of academic growth its students achieved over the course of the year compared to students across the state who are at a similar academic level. Those growth measures are based on the results of end-of-grade and end-of-course tests in reading and math in elementary and middle schools and English and math in high schools. The scale ranges from -10.0 to 10.0 with an index between -2.0 and 2.0 indicating a school has met growth expectations.

Five Dare County schools exceeded overall growth goals – Kitty Hawk, Manteo and Nags Head elementary schools as well as Manteo Middle School and Manteo High School.

Of those schools, Nags Head Elementary and Kitty Hawk Elementary, along with Manteo Middle, saw improvements, going from meeting growth goals during the 2017-2018 school year to exceeding growth goals in the 2018-2019 school year.  In fact, Manteo High and Manteo Middle schools ranked in the top 3% of North Carolina schools when it came to overall growth index.

No school in the county saw a decline in its overall performance related to performance goals, and First Flight Middle was the only one not to meet growth goals in 2018-2019.

“We’ve had some tremendous growth at many of our schools,” Superintendent John Farrelly asserted at the Sept. 10 Dare County Board of Education meeting. He noted that this year marked a first in some time, if not ever, for the largest number of schools that had exceeded growth in the district. As for First Flight Middle School, he said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do…but we are confident we will make progress.”

First Flight Middle School’s overall growth index was -8.28 for the 2018-2019 school year, compared with its mark the previous year at -8.1. The school was among the 25 percent of North Carolina schools to fall short of meeting growth expectations.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Sandy Kinzel noted that district and school administrators were working to determine what strategies were needed at First Flight Middle School and said that the district would support the school through human resources and professional development.

The district brought in two new administrators to First Flight Middle School last year – Principal Diane Childress and Assistant Principal Curtis Price. Before taking over the helm at First Flight, Childress was a long-time Kitty Hawk Elementary School teacher as well as an administrative intern at First Flight High School during the 2016-2017 school year. Price was formerly a teacher at Manteo Middle School before completing his administrative internship at Manteo Elementary School in 2016-2017.

Last year, Childress and Price implemented several new practices after the release of the 2017-2018 report cards, which indicated the school had dropped from a “B” to a “C”. Those practices, among other measures, included the creation of Professional Learning Communities to encourage teacher collaboration as well as using Hawk Time, the school’s study hall period, as a time for targeted instruction.

As for other scores on the 2018-2019 accountability report, Dare County’s graduation rate is 90.5%, down slightly from 91.4% during the 2017-2018 school year. And finally, the six schools in Dare County designated during the 2017-2018 school year as Targeted Support and Improvement/Additional Support schools as a result of underperformance among the Exceptional Children population met or exceeded growth within that subgroup, Kinzel noted.

Those schools include Cape Hatteras Secondary School, Nags Head Elementary School, Manteo Elementary School, Manteo Middle School, First Flight Elementary School and First Flight Middle School.



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  • Travis

    Wasn’t there just a report about Dare having the highest teacher salaries and one of the highest dollar-to-student spending ratios? B’s and C’s don’t cut it.

    Thursday, Sep 19 @ 1:33 pm