In the first Buncombe County Board of Education meeting since the start of the 2023-24 school year, Superintendent Rob Jackson touted Buncombe Schools’ mostly improved grades over last year.
For the first time since 2015, students at 20 Buncombe Schools exceeded learning expectations during the 2022-23 school year, eight more than last year. Three fewer schools were designated as “low performing” compared to last year, while the same three schools earned an A grade.
“We know that certainly we have work to do in areas to improve. We’re not satisfied,” Jackson told board members at the Sept. 7 meeting. “For now, though, these results coupled with our highest ever cohort graduation rate and matching our current year highest ACT county average makes me very excited and enthusiastic for the future.”
Among full school populations, one school — Enka Intermediate — lost a letter grade, moving from a C last year to a D in 2022-23. Four schools moved from a D to a C — Reynolds Middle, Avery’s Creek, Leicester and Sand Hill-Venable elementary schools.
While Woodfin Elementary improved from an F to a D, one school earned an F grade for the second straight year — Johnston Elementary.
A school that earns a D or F is classified as low performing. It must come up with an improvement plan and inform parents of its performance grade, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
On the flip side, three schools earned an A grade for at least the second straight year — Early College High School and Middle College High School — both located on the A-B Tech campus — and Nesbitt Discovery Academy.
West Buncombe and Glen Arden elementary schools improved from a C to a B last school year.
Overall, 19 of Buncombe’s 45 schools earned a C and 12 received a B grade last year.
For comparison, at Asheville City Schools, five schools received a C grade, three got a B and one school got a D.
To calculate school grades, NCDPI uses 80% achievement, or various test scores, and 20% academic growth. For the second year in a row, 33 of Buncombe’s 45 schools met or exceeded growth expectations, which are calculated based on end of course assessments, according to NCDPI.
Two Asheville City schools — Asheville High and the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville — exceeded growth expectations and only one, Isaac Dickson Elementary, did not meet expectations. The other six schools met expectations, according to NCDPI.
In other news
As part of the consent agenda, Buncombe board members approved a comprehensive list of advisory council members for each school for the 2023-24 school year.
According to board member Rob Elliot, since 1992, administrators at each Buncombe County school have put together advisory councils of teachers, parents, community members and students to help drive policy making by the school district. Councils consist of five to 20 people at each school, depending on interest.