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CMS Scores Continue Steady Growth

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Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools saw gains in all subject matters covered in end of year testing. Beginning in 3rd grade, students are tested in math and reading. Science is added in 5th grade and additional subjects in high school. CMS has shown steady improvement the past few years. Superintendent Peter Gorman says this year the district continued to make substantial progress. "Overall we are pleased with the results," says Gorman. "We are not satisfied, though. We don't have 100 percent of our kids proficient and we don't have a level playing field for every one of the children within the school district." In elementary and middle school, reading and math scores were up 3 percent. The tests found 70 percent of these students read at grade-level, and 82 percent were proficient at math. High school courses like geometry and English saw similar gains with proficiency rising in those to 79 percent. Gorman says it was an achievement, especially given the year's budget cuts. "Our teachers and our principals did an unbelievable job, but we're going to have to work harder to get the same results next year," says Gorman. The district has cut hundreds of teachers to deal with deeper budget cuts this coming school year. Gorman attributed much of the success to good teachers. Jan McIver is the principal of Bishop Spaugh Middle School, a school in West Charlotte that saw dramatic gains this year. She says the district's plan to recruit strong teachers to low-performing schools is paying off. Not only is the school turning out better prepared students, but it's receiving new sixth-graders who perform at a higher level. "Those students are now coming up to us in the middle school, so we're reaping the benefits that Tonya Kales has seen at Ashley Park," says McIver. "It's a really good crop of kids that she's grown and now passed off to us." Another improvement included a slight narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority students in all test subjects. At the current pace of improvement, Gorman says it would take another 8 years before that gap is closed. End of year testing determines which schools have made adequate gains, or Adequate Yearly Progress, under No Child Left Behind. This year fewer CMS schools made the grade: 58 percent. Gorman says that's not a surprise since last year for the first time students were allowed to take tests over. "It was if you have dramatic growth one year, you can be declared as making safe harbor," says Gorman. "Well, yeah, you have dramatic growth when you give kids two cracks at the assessment verses one crack at the assessment." CMS released its results early. Most districts will release their data on Wednesday. Statewide averages will be released in early August. The CMS graduation also increased to 70 percent, up from 66 percent.