Teachers’ Reactions to Jordan’s “C” Performance Grade

Caleb Stine, Staff Writer

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Every year, the North Carolina Department of Education releases an “NC School Report Card” which assigns a letter grade to every public school in the state based on a variety of factors, including “student performance and academic growth, school and student characteristics, and many other details.” Included in the report card is a school’s letter grade for the academic year, based 80 percent on the school’s achievement scores on state tests and 20 percent on students’ academic growth. For the 2017-18 school year, Jordan reached an overall score of a 68/100, putting it at a very high “C” (between 55-69). During the 17-18 school year, Jordan exceeded its academic growth expectations and ranked second among DPS high schools, following Durham School of the Arts with an outstanding 85. However, Jordan’s grade for the 2018-19 school year decreased to a disappointing 61 and did not meet its growth expectations according to the state. Compared to other DPS high schools, Jordan unsurprisingly ranked behind DSA, but both Hillside and Riverside met their growth expectations and were able to outscore Jordan with a 65 and 67, respectively. 

The state’s report card does endure its fair share of controversy. Many students, teachers, and parents believe that the report card has many shortcomings. These reports have been criticized by many for placing too much emphasis on standardized tests and for not considering school funding as a relevant metric that may affect standardized test scores. The NC Report Cards themselves even admit that “parents and others should note that the information in the School Report Card, while important, cannot tell you the entire story about a school.” 

Last week, four teachers shared their thoughts on the NC School Report Cards, how they felt about Jordan’s grade, and what students and teachers could do to improve Jordan’s growth for the following report cards. 

Ms. Candelario says she is “frankly not surprised about Jordan’s low grade.” When she was proctoring for tests, she said she witnessed “many students just clicking random answers on the computer and not even reading the questions.” Mr. Perez believes that the answer to Jordan’s dismal grade is slightly less obvious. He thinks that “oftentimes, data or statistics like this can be deceiving on the surface.” Perez believes that “one good place to start [to find answers] is to look at different variables…such as specific subjects and departments.” He stated that there is a “bigger debate to be had about the value of standardized testing” and questioned whether standardized tests are the best reflection of Jordan’s students. 

Mr. McLemore believes that improvement will come through a “two way process: the teachers gotta be teaching the proper material and the students actually need to take the time out to listen and pay attention.” He believes that students who simply don’t pay attention are the biggest liability to our school’s test scores.

Ms. Howes takes a slightly more optimistic point of view when it comes to interpreting the data shown in the report card. “I think that our school has a great opportunity right now for growth,” she said. Howes believes that blame and guilt are not the best  ways to react to the situation, and that “the proper way to respond is with a positive attitude.” She believes that scores rely heavily on teachers lessons, saying “I think that this begins in the classroom. Quality lessons are going to occur if there is quality lesson planning.” However, she also believes that “the expectations of our students to engage and be present is also part of what we can do to move forward.” 

Though these four teachers had different approaches to how the report card results can improve in future years, they all expressed the belief that the grade falls on both the students and the teachers, and both parties should be willing to work smarter and harder to improve our school’s scores. Regardless of Jordan’s grade on the report card, students and teachers will continue to SOAR if they work together.