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Project LIFT report, testing protest on tap for CMS board

A report on the first year of Project LIFT and a demonstration by opponents of controversial new state exams are expected at Tuesday’s meeting of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

Project LIFT, for Leadership and Investment for Transformation, is a public-private partnership to boost academic achievement at West Charlotte High and its eight feeder schools. Local foundations and businesses have pledged $55 million over five years; the 2012-13 was the first year of the project.

One of the goals is raising West Charlotte’s graduation rate to 90 percent or higher by 2017. The school, which had a 56 percent on-time graduation rate in 2012, saw the rate rise to 71 percent in 2013.

Other measures of academic progress are tied to state testing. Results for 2012-13 aren’t in yet. The state introduced new tests that officials say will bring much lower scores than the old exams. The state Board of Education, which had planned to release 2013 results next month, recently voted to postpone that release until November.

Meanwhile, the local advocacy group Mecklenburg ACTS plans to demonstrate outside the Government Center before the meeting, then present the board with a petition asking it to resist the expansion of controversial new state exams known as “ measures of student learning,” contending the exams introduced last year were poorly designed and wasted classroom time and taxpayers’ money. As of Monday morning the online petition had 188 signatures.

Neither the LIFT report nor the petition requires board action. The meeting includes a public comment period for people to speak briefly on any topic; speakers can sign up on-site or call 980-343-5139 by noon Tuesday to get on the list.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. It is also broadcast live on CMS-TV Cable 3 and online at www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe/Pages/BoardofEducationMeetingVideos.aspx.

Helms: 704-358-5033; Twitter: @anndosshelms
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