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CMS Above Average On New Tests; Union Co. Second-Highest

Duncan McFadyen

CMS students scored slightly above the state average on new standardized test scores released by the state Thursday. But new tests aligned with national Common Core standards caused scores to drop significantly for all districts in North Carolina.

The state’s average proficiency rate dropped more than 30 points. In CMS, that proficiency rate was 47 percent. But, CMS scores were higher than the state average across the board. Among CMS high schools, ArdreyKell had the highest average, over 80 percent. West Charlotte was lowest with about 17 percent proficiency.

  Gaston County Schools’ average was lower than CMS and the state average, at about 39 percent. Cabarrus County Schools was slightly higher, at 50 percent. And Union County schools had the second-highest proficiency rate in North Carolina: 59 percent.

CMS superintendent Heath Morrison says administrators were prepared for this year’s scores to be dramatically lower.

“As you set more rigorous standards, as you make a determination to assess students on those standards," he says. "As the bar raises there were going to be some challenges and perhaps some setbacks.”

The new standards put more emphasis on critical thinking rather than simple memorization. For example, a 5th grade reading question in 2012 asked students to read a half-page story and answer a basic question about the information in the story. On the new test, the story was three pages long, and the students were asked to INFER something from the story’s events.

School districts are now looking at the test scores to see what topics---and what students---need the most improvement.

“What’s important is that students don’t go into a test being unprepared," Morrison says, "that they’re ready for the level of rigor, that the standards that are going to be on the test have been covered and taught well in the classroom.”

He says teachers might make mid-year changes to lesson plans to better prepare students.

CMS will give out test results for each student in about a month.