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State report shows academic growth in JCPS schools

SYLVA, NC – Jackson County Public Schools is pleased to announce that eight of nine schools met or exceeded expected academic growth during the 2021-22 school year according to testing and accountability data released by the NC Department of Public Instruction on September 1. Scotts Creek School ranked 5th out of 191 schools in the western region for overall school growth.

Jackson County Early College, Scotts Creek and Smoky Mountain High School exceeded expected overall academic growth. Blue Ridge School, Blue Ridge Early College, Cullowhee Valley School, Fairview School and Smokey Mountain Elementary met expected overall academic growth.

Each school was also given a performance letter grade based primarily on achievement scores from assessments such as end-of-grade and end-of-course tests, English language assessments, ACT scores and four-year graduation rates. Achievement scores account for 80% of each school’s performance grade while 20% is based on academic growth.

Jackson County Early College received a school performance grade of A. Smoky Mountain High School received a grade of B. Blue Ridge Early College and Fairview School received C’s, and a D was given to Blue Ridge School, Cullowhee Valley, Scotts Creek and Smoky Mountain Elementary.

“This is the first time since 2013 that eight of our schools either met or exceeded expected overall academic growth,” Superintendent Dr. Dana Ayers said. “I am incredibly proud of our teachers and staff who stayed focused on their students during two of the most challenging years in recent memory.”

Jackson County Early College was one of only seven schools in the state where more than 95% of 11th grade students received a composite score of 19 or greater on the ACT. All 11th graders take the ACT each year, and the UNC System uses a composite score of 19 as a minimum requirement for college entrance. Overall, JCPS ranks 25th in the state for the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the minimum composite score.

The district’s high schools excelled again this year achieving a graduation rate of 90.2, ranking 21st out of 115 North Carolina school systems.

“This speaks volumes about the commitment of our teachers and staff,” Ayers said. “It’s inspiring to see how much they really do care about instructing and growing their students.”

North Carolina students improved their performance on state tests during the 2021-22 school year from the previous year’s COVID steep decline, and schools achieved growth almost on par with pre-pandemic levels, according to the state’s accountability report presented today to the State Board of Education.

Because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, the accountability report for the 2021-22 school year is the first since 2018-19 to feature all components of the state’s accountability framework, including the calculation of A-F School Performance Grades and growth designations.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still significantly impacting students and schools last year, student performance on the state’s end-of-grade and end-of-course exams continued to be below levels reported for the 2018-19 year, the last full year prior to the pandemic disruptions that began in March 2020. Still, about seven of every 10 schools achieved at least expected growth last year, as measured by the state’s yardstick for year-to-year academic gains.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said educators, students and their families are to be commended for their focus and hard work during a challenging year.

“Students and schools in North Carolina faced the same hurdles last year as others across the nation,” Truitt said. “They began the 2021-22 school year handicapped by the year before, that for many, was defined by remote instruction that proved to be less effective than in-person learning. Last year, too, was not without challenges with student and teacher absences because of quarantines and other significant difficulties.”

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