Education

14 CMS schools could see changes because of low performance

Fourteen Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools are on a recently released state list of low performing schools, which could lead to such changes as requesting charter-like flexibility in school calendars and teacher pay.

Two Mecklenburg charter schools are also among the 401 schools statewide on the “recurring low performing” list, which signifies low proficiency levels and moderate to low growth on state exams in two of the past three years.

A state Board of Education policy approved earlier this month offers options for improving the schools, such as replacing staff or requesting that a school be allowed to operate under the state’s charter school regulations.

CMS spokeswoman Renee McCoy said this week that district officials are awaiting more information from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction “to be able to wrap their arms around this new designation from the state.”

The list of low-performing CMS schools are mostly high-poverty neighborhood schools.

The Wake County school board has already voted to request the charter-like flexibility for two elementary schools in the coming school year. Unlike charter schools, which are run by independent boards, schools using the “restart model” would remain under the district’s oversight. The state policy allows the district to hire an education management organization, such as those that operate some charter schools.

CMS officials have repeatedly said they’d like freedom from the state’s calendar law so they could shorten summer breaks in schools where student skills are most likely to backslide over long breaks. That can be done by rearranging the standard 180 days or by adding days, which takes extra money.

The district got special permission to try both approaches in Project LIFT, a public-private turnaround effort focused on nine west Charlotte schools. Two preK-8 schools use a year-round 180-day calendar and two others have an additional 19 days, with private money covering costs of about $2 million. In the first two years, none of the year-round schools has seen significant gains on test scores, but leaders say they hope to see progress with more time.

The CMS schools labeled recurring low performing (see accompanying box) are mostly high-poverty neighborhood schools, along with Turning Point Academy, an alternative school for students with serious disciplinary problems. Many have already been the focus of district and/or state efforts to improve performance. Two, for instance, are part of the CMS Beacon Initiative, which targets 14 urban schools for intensive support. Three have received state school improvement grants.

Others have been the focus of less formal improvement efforts. For instance, McClintock Middle School has been recognized for a strong church-community partnership that has helped build an award-winning robotics program, and CMS recently added a math-science magnet program.

The state Board of Education has voted not to renew the charter for Charlotte’s Crossroads Charter High, one of eight charter schools on the list, based on academic and financial issues. Crossroads is appealing that decision, which could force the school to close this summer.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

Recurring low performing list

These Mecklenburg County schools are on the state’s list, based on getting the low-performing label two of the last three years.

School

Type

Briarwood Elementary

CMS neighborhood school

Cochrane Collegiate

Academy

CMS 6-12 partial magnet

Community Charter School

Elementary charter

Crossroads Charter High

High school charter

Eastway Middle

CMS neighborhood school

Huntingtowne Farms

Elementary

CMS neighborhood school

McClintock Middle

CMS partial magnet

Northeast Middle

CMS neighborhood school

Oakdale Elementary

CMS neighborhood school

Quail Hollow Middle

CMS neighborhood school

Sedgefield Middle

CMS partial magnet

Sterling Elementary

CMS neighborhood school

Stoney Creek Elementary

CMS neighborhood school

Tuckaseegee Elementary

CMS partial magnet

Turning Point Academy

CMS alternative school

Whitewater Middle

CMS neighborhood school

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