Parent Teacher Magazine Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Jan/Feb 2018 - Page 4

CMS Superintendent, Dr. Clayton Wilcox When grades don’t tell the real story The state of North Carolina has released the annual letter grades given to each school. They’re based on performance on state tests (End-of-Course and End-of-Grade) and they’re are easy to understand: A, B, C, D, F. But I have been wondering if they really show the real progress in our schools? I don’t think they do. One letter grade doesn’t reflect the dynamic and rigorous learning at Whitewater Middle, which uses a novel-based curriculum to build literacy skills. Four to five novels are part of the curriculum in each of the school’s three grades. Classics such as “Of Mice and Men” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” are paired with contemporary works such as “Before We Were Free” and “The Laramie Project.” It’s a little like the old Paul Harvey radio show about the news behind the news. A single letter grade does not reflect the focus and determination of Meredith Benthall’s room full of kindergartners at Winterfield Elementary on a December day. Students were learning phonics by matching small pictures of everyday items to the sounds in the names. A boot and a bed go under the Bb column in the workbook in front of each student. A goose goes under the Gg column. The students lift their heads from the workbooks only when they don’t recognize the picture. “Ms. Benthall, what is this?” What Neely and her colleagues are doing is hard work. Whitewater is a Title I school, with 85 percent of its 770 students qualifying for federal assistance. Students have a wide range of ability when they get to Whitewater. Some are reading on a kindergarten level; others on a second- or third-grade level and some above their grade levels. Much of the instruction is re-teaching so that students can fill in the gaps and move up to an appropriate grade level. It’s paying off: Whitewater Middle was one of the top two Title I schools in CMS exceeding expected growth. As the room filled with the rustle of paper pictures sliding into exercise books, Benthall surveyed the room with pride. “It’s December. When they started here, they didn’t speak English. Now they’re reading words and matching them to sounds,” she said. “The amount of progress they make is amazing.” She turned to a student matching pictures and said, “You speak English and …?” The answer came back with a smile. “Swahili.” The students hail from Arab countries, Spanish-speaking countries, Nepal, Korea – in all, Winterfield’s 624 students come from 33 countries and speak 27 languages. Under the state’s grading system, Winterfield and Whitewater Middle both have a grade of D this year. The amazing progress taking place at both schools isn’t reflected in the schools’ grades. Neither is the heroic work and fierce commitment at both schools to moving every student forward. That commitment to the work doesn’t waver. Whitewater Middle came very close to making a C this year. Sixth-grade reading teacher Makenn vFFV62FRV"֗72v2F6FVB'WBBFWFW'&VB( v^( &PvrFBvFBFF( BV( 6R62( v^( &R&Vǒf7W6rvw&W76fRF&rBFN( 2vN( 2vrFRFffW&V6R( ХFR66( 2WGFW"w&FR6FW6( B&VfV7BFBvFW&fVB6&V6&FVBFRfW'FֆvW7B&VFrw&wF6&GFRV6V'W&r6607BV"( 2w&wFFB27BFv&RFR677&bVƖgV66vFV6W2fW'Fw&FRƗFW&77GVFVG2&RG&VB6V6W26VfW0B6'2VG2&VBfW"&2VWBW62fW&2FR6VG2bvW0GW&r2FW&VBgV666G2B7W'fVBF&RvFffR7GVFVG2v&PF67W76r&6VB( 6VVF^( '6&V6W"FRf7W20FV6RFW( &R&VFrF涖rBWfVFrvBFW( fR&VBN( 2&@F&VƖWfRFBfW"V'2vFWvW&RFRFW&v'FW'2&VF( 0677&FvFRV&rVvƗ6BƗFW&7BFR6RFRFV6W'26BFR&w&W72v2WfFVBgFW"Fb66( FPf'7BF&GƖW2&VFr( 6BƖ6VVǒ6WfVFw&FRFV6W BvFWvFW"֖FFR( fW"vVV2FW"FW( &RFW&W7FVBN( bFWv@&RFRF&VB( ФBvFW&fVBBvFWvFW"֖FFRFRVVFR2frFR&w&W702Fv&RWfW'FFW&v'FW'27FW"72fW'Fw&FW'27&V6PFV"&VFr6&VV66WfVFBVvFw&FW'27FW"FP6WFWG2b7FV&V6B'W"VR7GVFVB&w&W7226V7W&VB7G&FVv2BFVF6W&W2b6'BFǒ76W76VG0FBrFV6W'2FFVFgV&rv2BFG&W72FVV6ǒ&VFgV66VVǒvFFVBFRFW"FV6W'2BbW"40662&V( BvfrWGFW"vBw&FRFV"662vWBFN( 2FP&vBGFGVFR( 2FRRFB2vrF7G&VwFVW"662W&vRFP6VGBW"&VG2F&V6v旦R&V&w&W72BFf7W26vRWGFW"w&FR76vVB'6VR&VvWN( 2"FR&w&W70&VrFRB42662&V6W6RN( 2&VBN( 26vrW"7GVFVG>( ƗfW2f"FR&WGFW"( 2BFN( 2vBGFW'27BBFVWN( 2v&FvWFW"FRFBBb&w&W72BWfW'RbW"662ƖRW0VF6BVF66RE$4$R&VR7&72&VR6V@"( "V'fV''V'#( "&VBFV6W"vP