NCNSP Partner Schools Show Strong Results
August 15, 2012 - North Carolina's innovative high schools continue to demonstrate strong results, according to recently released state data for the 2011-2012 school year, with graduation rates for most above the state's overall showing and improved outcomes on ABCs accountability measures.
With North Carolina reaching a new high-water mark with a four-year graduation rate of 80 percent, the state's innovative high schools that are partners with the NC New Schools Project posted a combined graduation rate of 88 percent -- up from 85.6 percent for the class of 2011, according to an NCNSP analysis of data from the Department of Public Instruction.
Among the 76 break-the-mold schools with graduating classes this spring, early college high schools graduated 93.5 percent, while more than a dozen STEM schools open long enough to graduate full cohorts had a graduation rate of 91.6 percent. Including a number of comprehensive high schools that joined NCNSP as partners this past year, the overall graduation rate for all 26 STEM schools was 84.3 percent.
NCNSP partner schools were also well represented among the state's top performers on the key outcome of graduation. Of the 161 high schools statewide with graduation rates of at least 90 percent, 55 of those -- about a third -- were either early college or STEM high schools that are partners with NCNSP. More than two-thirds of the 76 NCNSP partner schools with graduating classes this spring -- 53 in all -- achieved graduation rates of at least 90 percent.
Individual student groups underrepresented in higher education also showed above-average graduation outcomes. Among black students, the combined graduation rate for all NCNSP partner schools with graduating classes was 86.2 percent; for early colleges alone, 96.7 percent. And for low-income students, the overall graduation rate for NCNSP partner schools was 85.2 percent; 92.3 percent for early colleges. By comparison, the state's overall graduation rate both for black students and low-income students was 74.6 percent.
Under the state's ABCs accountability system, which is being phased out this year and replaced by a different approach to measuring school performance, NCNSP partner schools showed good results. Nearly 80 percent of the schools achieved "expected growth," based on past student performance, with nearly half the schools also reaching "high growth" or exceeding their targets for expected student progress. Slightly more than 84 percent of schools had passing rates on end-of-course exams of at least 80 percent, with a median pass rate of 96 percent for all 100 innovative high schools, including 24 schools still too new to have a graduating class.
But comparisons with past years results are complicated by the fact that the number of individual end-of-course tests was cut by more than half in 2011-12, with the elimination of tests in Algebra II, Civics and Economics, U.S. History and Physical Science. Tests this past year were limited to Algebra I, English I and Biology.