County schools, students show stellar performance

There is much to celebrate in Sampson County Schools this week, despite a hurricane breathing down our necks.

Parents, community members and potential industrial candidates, alike, should see great promise in report card results released late last week by the state Department of Public Instruction.

Those results saw the county school system land at No. 15 in the state for academic performance, with 13 of the system’s 18 schools exceeding academic growth, and 17 of 18 of those same schools meeting or exceeding growth expectations.

What that means in layman’s terms is that Sampson County Schools students are performing well on end-of-grade and end-of-course test, are showing a mastery of subjects and are excelling academically, and they are doing better at all those things than many of their counterparts across the state.

Only 14 of the 115 North Carolina school systems outperformed those K-12 students in Sampson County Schools. We see that as a lot to crow about.

What’s more, in the northern end of Sampson, two elementary schools made a little history beyond the system’s No. 15 ranking. Plain View achieved its first A ranking and Clement earned that nod for the second consecutive year, giving them another gleaming crown among the county’s fine achievements.

Sampson’s four high schools, in addition to meeting or exceeding academic growth standards, also can boast of increases in graduation rates, yet another feather in Sampson’s educational cap.

According to statistics released by DPI, Sampson’s graduation rate rose from 79.8 percent in 2016-17 to 83.3 percent in 2017-18, with Hobbton High showing the most significant jump at 86.6 percent, up from 76.8 percent the previous year, a rather remarkable feat in itself.

There are other bragging rights the school system has earned as well, including that 94.4 percent of the schools met or exceeded growth expectations. The state, we reported in a story in The Independent’s weekend edition, considers growth to be an indication of the rate at which students in the school learned over the past year. The standard is roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of growth for a year of instruction.

The academic news is great, though we, like school officials, are among the first to admit that there is still room for improvement. Until all schools are performing at the highest level possible, that will be the case. But the consistent movement of the academic needle in the upward position shows that the county system is working toward that very thing. And we believe with the commitment school leaders and teachers have to their students and their academic achievement, the kind of results released last week will keep coming.

As more of our area schools improve in grade ratings and academic growth, it opens avenues far beyond our classroom doors for economic development, too, yet another reason to be excited about the county system’s performance.

The effort our educators have put in to bring our children along academically is part of the foundation of our county’s future. The hard work they are putting in is showing in the data.