Karen Puckett – “For 20 years, we have chosen to assess our children’s success or failure using only one metric, an isolated yearly measure that doesn’t tell the entire story about the child themselves or the underfunded instructional team that is supporting them.”

Public schools offer transformative experiences for ALL of our community’s young people by teaching them teamwork and social skills as well as academics. Educators throughout our district continue to use creative practices to foster learning. This includes multisensory techniques to teach literacy; hands-on life skills through positive peer engagement; and opportunities for artistic expression through art, music, and dance. By teaching skills that are  transferable to the real world, public schools prepare children for life in a fun and safe environment. Public schools use child-friendly practices to educate the whole child, and public schools are available to all of the children in our diverse and growing community! 

Please keep the above information in mind as you read the following press release from Rowan-Salisbury Schools. As a retired educator who has seen many success stories come out of our public schools, I fear that the public is being misled when so much focus is placed on a single annual test score that is weighted in favor of achieving a specific number rather than on achieving actual academic growth. For 20 years, we have chosen to assess our children’s success or failure using only one metric, an isolated yearly measure that doesn’t tell the entire story about the child themselves or the underfunded instructional team that is supporting them. Karen Puckett



September 6, 2023

Rowan-Salisbury School System Releases 2022-2023 School Report Card Grades

SALISBURY, North Carolina – The Rowan-Salisbury School System (RSS) announces the release of the school report card grades for the 2022-2023 school year, as provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). These grades, which have just been made available to the public, serve as one measure of school performance and offer certain insights into the progress and achievements of our schools.

RSS recognizes the importance and purpose of school performance grades (SPGs) in assessing our educational institutions. Additionally, it is essential to acknowledge that the formula used to determine these grades is a topic of discussion within our district and across the State of North Carolina. RSS believes that while achievement is significant, growth is more vital in assessing school performance. 

“While I do not agree with the calculation used to assign school performance grades since it does not at least equally emphasize student growth, it is the formula in place currently,” said RSS Superintendent Dr. Kelly Withers. “For this reason, it is essential that our district and our schools analyze the results of the end of grade/course assessments as well as the other metrics our state uses to assess school quality. We must focus on implementing standard aligned, engaging lessons with authentic feedback that will lead to student growth and then academic proficiency.”

The current formula for assigning report card grades, which assigns 80% weight to student achievement and 20% weight to student growth, does not fully represent the progress Rowan-Salisbury schools are making in developing our students’ potential. Growth reflects how students perform compared to historical data, which, in our view, should play a more substantial role in assessing school success.

The state of North Carolina is currently exploring ways to realign SPGs seeking a multiple measures model. RSS believes that growing students year over year is the key to improving overall student achievement, and we support efforts to refine the assessment criteria to better reflect this belief. 

The following are the school report card grades for RSS schools for the 2022-2023 school year:

  • Grade A- Rowan Early College. 
  • Grade C- Bostian, Landis, Millbridge, Morgan, Mt. Ulla, and Rockwell Elementary schools; Jesse C. Carson and East Rowan High schools. 
  • Grade D- Shive and West Rowan Elementary schools; Summit K8 Virtual Academy; China Grove, and Erwin Middle schools; West Rowan, North Rowan, South Rowan, and Salisbury High schools. 
  • Grade F: China Grove, Hanford Dole, Granite Quarry, Hurley, Isenberg, Knollwood, Koontz, North Rowan, and Overton Elementary schools; Corriher-Lipe, Knox, North Rowan, Southeast, and West Rowan Middle schools.

While these scores are discouraging, it’s worth highlighting that several schools have shown notable progress by growing students from their previous years. 

  • Schools which “Exceeded Growth” were: Bostian and Mt. Ulla Elementary schools; East Rowan High School; and Rowan County Early College. 
  • Schools that “Met Growth” were: Hurley, Isenberg, Koontz, Millbridge, Morgan, and Shive Elementary schools, Summit K8 Virtual Academy, North Rowan Middle School, and Jesse C. Carson High School. 

Of particular note are the schools which improved from “Not Met Growth” to “Meets Growth,” which include Jesse C. Carson, Summit K8 Virtual Academy, North Rowan Middle School, as well as Shive and Morgan Elementary schools. 

Additionally, Bostian Elementary School and Rowan County Early College achieved growth which allowed them to move from “Meets Growth” to “Exceeded Growth,” while East Rowan High School progressed from “Not Met Growth” to “Exceeded Growth.”

Of the most encouraging news in these report cards, reading and math in grades 3-8, one school “Exceeded Growth” and 14 schools “Met Growth” in Reading while four Schools “Exceeded Growth” and 14 Schools “Met Growth” in Math. Unfortunately, there is no breakdown of science data available at this time, which also contributes to overall growth assessment.

One metric of long-term success is the graduation rate in high schools which measures the percentage of students who graduate within four years. Currently, the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s overall graduation rate for our seven high schools is at 88.4% (an increase from 84.5% in 2022-2023), broken down by school as: Jesse C. Carson High 93%, East Rowan High 86.4%, North Rowan High 90.9%, RCEC > 95%, Salisbury High 76.7%, South Rowan High 89.5%, West Rowan High 93.6%. 

“I am incredibly proud of the work of our schools. Many of our schools are showing forward progress towards meeting or exceeding growth and our graduation rate is moving in a positive direction. However, we cannot be satisfied with making growth. Our schools will need to exceed growth in all measures in order to move towards academic excellence,” Withers said.

RSS is committed to continuous improvement in our schools, emphasizing the importance of both student achievement and growth. Finalizing our strategic plan in April, Renewal in Action 2028, we have begun the work to collaborate with each of our schools. As a district, we must provide the support and professional development needed to grow our students and support the Rowan-Salisbury School System mission to inspire innovative and engaging learning experiences to move students towards success at all levels.

For media inquiries, please contact: Michelle Shue, Director of Marketing and Communications, Rowan-Salisbury School District.