After Sampson County Schools came in 18th place in student performance, district officials were happy to share a little more about that accomplishment.
During a Tuesday work session for the Sampson County Schools Board of Education, the board received a presentation on how well students performed on End-of-Grade and End-of-Course tests for the 2016-17 academic period. Col. Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent for curriculum and student services, compared the combined percentage of 65.9 percent for proficiency, which was better than about 20 other districts. Some of the nearby areas included Cumberland (57.3 percent), Duplin (44 percent), Bladen (51.6 percent) and New Hanover (64.2 percent). Sampson Schools also passed the state average of 59.2 percent.
“But bear in mind, in terms of the budget, we’re ranked 108,” Macon said referring to the 18th ranking and funds available.
The rankings were based on performance in third through eighth grades; science for fifth and eighth grades; and Math I, English II and biology courses at the high school level.
Carteret County Public Schools was the the only one listed to beat Sampson with 68.4. Although, they did not reach that number, Dr. Wesley Johnson noted that Sampson still outperformed the district on the third and fifth grade level in addition to science for fifth and eighth grades.
When it comes to growth measures, the state considers growth to be an indication of the rate at which students in the school learned over the past year. In Sampson, 15 out of 18 (or 83.3 percent) schools met or exceeded growth. The districts higher than Sampson County included Jones (100 percent), Pender (87.5 percent), Craven (88 percent), Cumberland (83.8 percent), Onslow (85.3 percent) and Hoke (100 percent).
“Bottom line, we are very proud of this 83.3 percent,” Macon said. “That’s good, we want it be greater. That’s our goal — going to the next level.”
With the performance composite of 65.9 percent, Macon mentioned that others are taking notice. Macon said they’ve received phone calls asking about the improvements.
“It’s not something that you can just put your finger on,” Macon said. “In my mind, it’s consistency and sticking to the plan and our model which is P.D.C.A. — Plan, Do, Check, Act.”
He added that interpreting data, establishing relationships and sticking with what works, is another ingredient for success.
During the presentation, Macon was joined by Jeana Carr, director of elementary education; Sheila Peterson, director of middle grades, and Ginger Stone, director of Career and Technical Education. Kim Schmidlin, vice chair for the board, and other board applauded the efforts of everyone involved.
“You are the leaders of our curriculum and instruction and it’s clear that this year was an extremely successful year,” Schmidlin said. “I believe in a positive work culture and creating an environment where people are free to thrive. It’s clear that you guys work with our instructional leaders in the schools so that they can support our staffs, so they feel that they’re motivated everyday to achieve those goals as well. Thank you very much for your hard work this year.”
Board Member Telfair Simpson also commended the progress of the scores, growth measures and how proud the board is.
“It’s not a one-year trend and the trend is going up,” Simpson said. “That’s really what’s exciting.”
Mary Brown, board member, attributed the success to teachers caring for students.
“I think we love each other and we love our children,” Brown said. “We want to give them our best.”
Macon said the numbers presented were “incredible,” while mentioning financial resources. He said a lot of time and pride goes into teaching and working with students. Superintendent Eric Bracy said the district has a lot to be proud of when it comes to coming in 18th place out of more than 100 districts in North Carolina, although it’s 108th when it comes to funding.
“But money doesn’t cure all woes and all ills,” Bracy said.
Like others, Bracy recognized the work of school leaders involved with curriculum. He also spoke about the importance of keeping up the trend and the challenges involved with it. That comes with improvements and areas where some schools fell short.
“That’s our challenge — to put in a plan of monitoring to make sure next year around this time, that we have 100 percent,” he said. “That’s our goal. Certainly we’re proud and we want everybody in our community, in our school system to be excited.
“We sit here and talk about how well our schools do, but everybody in this room knows one thing — the rubber meets the roads in the schools and the classrooms each day,” Bracy said. “I told most of teachers and our staffs that they’re superheroes for the great work they do each day with our kids. If you give teachers the support that they need, they’ll make miracles happen.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.