Project LIFT, the public-private school turnaround project that drew national attention when it launched four years ago, will report its latest data to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board at a special meeting Tuesday.
The quest to help students succeed at West Charlotte High and its eight feeder schools debuted in 2012 with about $50 million in pledges and vows to have 90 percent of students graduating in time and passing state exams by 2017.
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West Charlotte’s graduation rate has soared from 54 percent to 86 percent in the four years LIFT has been active, but the same has been true at many schools across Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina and the nation. The 2016 test scores released this fall showed much more modest results on state reading, math and science exams and the ACT college-readiness test.
Project LIFT uses some of its private money to pay consultants to do a detailed analysis of test scores, graduation rates, attendance, suspensions and other measures of progress. The consultants compare LIFT schools with a control group of CMS schools with similarly high poverty levels, and track the results of LIFT students compared with students facing similar challenges.
Last year’s report showed no clear advantage for LIFT schools, though the consultants reported that several measures were trending in the right direction. The consultants said they couldn’t determine how much of West Charlotte’s rising graduation rate could be attributed to Project LIFT.
The private LIFT board has a contract with CMS to jointly run the nine schools. Donations pay for efforts to recruit and keep strong teachers, give the students extra learning time and provide students and their families with educational technology and other support.
Tuesday’s meeting, which is open to the public, will be at 1 p.m. in the Grigg conference room at Foundation for the Carolinas, 220 N. Tryon St.