North Carolina – Accountability

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. ESSA requires states to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) describing the state systems for evaluating school performance and holding schools accountable for improvement. States could submit their plans to the US ED by either April 3 or September 18, 2017. After receiving feedback on their plans from the US ED, states finalize their plans. State accountability systems take effect in school year 2017-18.

SREB developed this profile based on analysis of the plan North Carolina submitted to the US ED on September 18, 2017. SREB will update the profile when North Carolina finalizes its plan.

State Highlights: State Expectations for College and Career Readiness

States are not required to include college- and career-readiness expectations in their accountability systems under ESSA. Many SREB states, however, did set college- and career-readiness expectations in their plans, in the form of long-term goals and school performance indicators. North Carolina included the following expectation for college- and career-readiness in its plan.

  1. School performance indicator: ESSA requires states to set an indicator for school quality or student success, which can but does not have to include such measures as school climate and safety, student engagement and college readiness. North Carolina’s indicator of school quality or student success for high schools measures the percentage of students meeting each of the following college- and career-readiness benchmarks.
    • Composite score of 17 or higher on the ACT exam
    • Silver certificate or higher on the ACT WorkKeys exam
    • Passing grade in the Math 3 course
    • Proficient score on the state science assessment

Read about this expectation below in the profile.

Long-Term Goals

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states establish long-term goals for all students and student groups based on academic achievement, high school graduation rates and English language proficiency for English learners.

North Carolina established the following long-term goals.

Academic achievement

  • By 2026-27, 66 percent of students in grades three through eight will be proficient on North Carolina’s English language arts assessment, and 74 percent of students will be proficient on the math assessment. In high school, 71 percent of students will be proficient on the English language arts assessment, and 73 percent of students will be proficient on the math assessment.

Graduation rate

  • By 2026-27, 95 percent of students will graduate from high school in four years.

English language proficiency

  • By 2026-27, 50 percent of English learners will meet annual growth targets on the state English language proficiency assessment, or reach proficiency within four years of receiving services.

School Performance Indicators

ESSA specifies a set of indicators states must use to assess school performance. Indicators for all schools must include academic achievement as measured by proficiency on annual state assessments of English language arts and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. States must require 95 percent of students to participate in these assessments and factor this requirement into the school accountability system. States must also include two more indicators for all schools – English language proficiency for English learners and an indicator of school quality or student success, such as school climate and safety, student engagement and college readiness. For elementary and middle grades schools, states must include an additional academic indicator of the state’s choice, such as student growth on state assessments. For high schools, states must also include an indicator of four-year cohort graduation rate.

North Carolina established the following indicators of school performance.

Level Indicators

All schools

Academic achievement: Schools must meet the 95 percent participation rate for all students and subgroups

English language proficiency: Progress towards English proficiency on state English language proficiency assessment – WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0

Elementary and middle grades

Academic achievement: Proficiency on state English language arts and math assessments – end-of-grade tests

Other academic indicator: Proficiency on state science assessments – end-of-grade tests

School quality or student success: Student growth on state English language arts, math and science assessments – end-of-grade tests

High schools

Academic achievement

  • Proficiency on state English language arts and math assessments – end-of-course tests
  • Student growth on state English language arts and math assessments – end-of-course tests

Graduation rate

  • Four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate

School quality or student success: Students meeting each of the following college- and career-readiness benchmarks.

  • Composite score on the ACT exam of 17 or higher
  • Silver certificate or higher on the ACT WorkKeys exam
  • Proficient score on state science assessments – end-of-course tests
  • Passing grade in the Math 3 course

Annual Meaningful Differentiation

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states use their performance indicators to differentiate the performance of all schools and to report performance for all students and all student subgroups. States have flexibility in assigning weight to their indicators, so long as their indicators of academic achievement, graduation rate and English language proficiency progress together receive much greater weight than their school quality or student success indicators.

North Carolina established the following framework for differentiating schools, weights for each indicator, and student subgroups and subgroup size.

Framework for differentiating schools in North Carolina

On an annual basis, schools will receive an overall A through F letter grade, based on the performance of all students and each student subgroup on the indicators. For each indicator, schools will receive an A through F letter grade, for all students and each student subgroup.

Weights assigned to each indicator in North Carolina

Weights assigned to each indicator in North Carolina - Elementary and Middle Grades (80% Academic Achievement, Other Academic Indicator and English Language Proficiency Progress / 20% School Quality or Student Success) and High Schools (80% Academic Achievement (English Language Arts and Math), English Language Proficiency Progress, Graduation Rate, and School Quality or Student Success / 20% Academic Achievement (Student Growth))

Note. At the elementary and middle levels, North Carolina assigns one weighted percentage to a combination of academic indicators and English language proficiency progress. For high schools, North Carolina assigns one weighted percentage to a combination of indicators of academic achievement (English language arts and math), English language proficiency progress, graduation rate, and school quality or student success. North Carolina’s plan does not provide detail on the relative weights of the individual indicators within the combined weights. 

Student subgroups in North Carolina

  • Subgroups used: For state accountability, North Carolina will focus on nine student subgroups – economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, English learners, American Indian or Alaska native students, Asian students, black students, Hispanic or Latino students, students of two or more races, and white students. North Carolina will also report on the achievement of academically and intellectually gifted students.
  • Size of subgroups: In instances in which schools do not meet the threshold of 30 students (n-count) for any of the subgroups for an indicator, the school will not be held accountable for performance on that indicator. In instances in which a school has an n-count of fewer than 10 students in a subgroup, the subgroup results will not be reported publicly.

Identifying, Serving and Exiting Schools from Needs Improvement Status

ESSA requires that states establish a methodology for identifying low-performing schools. States must identify two categories of schools at least once every three years: those that need Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and those that need Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI). States may also establish other categories of schools, for example those not in need of improvement.

North Carolina established the following identification and exit criteria, and interventions to support schools.

Comprehensive Support and Improvement

How schools are identified

    Identified every three years beginning in 2018, schools that meet any of the following criteria. 

    • CSI schools: Title I schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide, based on all student performance
    • CSI high schools: Any school with less than a 67 percent graduation rate
    • TSI schools: Title I schools that do not exit additional TSI status after three years

    Interventions to meet improvement needs

    State will help local education agencies and their schools by providing:

    • Comprehensive needs assessment and on-site reviews
    • NCStar Web-based school plan management tool
    • Technical assistance including intensive coaching and support with data-based priority setting, district or school leadership, and instruction
    • Other support based on local needs, including improvement plan review, professional learning on evidence-based strategies and resource allocation review

    For schools failing to exit CSI status after four years, the state may require more rigorous interventions, such as adoption of specific turnaround models or inclusion in the state-run innovation school district.

    Criteria for exiting this category

      After four years, schools can exit CSI status by:

      • No longer meeting the CSI identification criteria 
      Targeted Support and Improvement

      How schools are identified

        • TSI schools: Identified annually beginning in 2019, any school with a “consistently underperforming” student subgroup that has received an “F” letter grade for three consecutive years
        • Additional TSI schools: Identified every three years beginning in 2021-22, any school with an “underperforming” student subgroup that
          • Performs lower than all students at the highest-performing CSI school for three consecutive years; and
          • Does not meet growth targets for three consecutive years

        Interventions to meet improvement needs

          State will help local education agencies in supporting their schools by providing:

          • Self-assessment tools
          • Support for school improvement planning  
          • Leadership coaching
          • Monthly technical assistance from regional service support teams
          • Professional learning for school and district staff
          • Regional training on the state’s multi-tiered system of support, reading foundations and K-3 literacy, and Universal Design for Learning

          Criteria for exiting this category

            • TSI schools can exit TSI status annually by receiving a student subgroup “D” letter grade or above for two consecutive years
            • Additional TSI schools can exit TSI status after three years by:
              • Meeting or exceeding student subgroup three-year growth targets; or
              • Being on target for student subgroups to reach state long-term proficiency goals in ELA and math.

            This profile was prepared by Kim Anderson, SREB’s director of benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards, Mary Elizabeth Mira, SREB’s assistant director of benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards, Tiffany Harrison, SREB’s research associate for benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards and Jeff Gagné, SREB’s director of policy analysis. For more information, please contact Kim Anderson at kim.anderson@sreb.org or Jeff Gagné at jeff.gagne@sreb.org.