CMS releases preliminary 2020-21 test results, see slight decline in graduation rate and course performance


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools provided preliminary test results from the 2020-21 school year on Tuesday and the results show some slight declines following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, there was a slight dip in the graduation rate from 85.5% to 83.6% and a lower end-of-course performance among all demographic subgroups in almost all grade levels and subjects.

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“After more than a year of disruption to public education in our community, these results are not unexpected, but they must serve as a signal that even while the pandemic tries to keep a tight grip around our lives, we must find innovative ways to help our students reach their full potential,” said Earnest Winston, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

More numbers. District says the recovery will be multi-year effort. The numbers here are a little staggering in some groups.

— Derek Dellinger (@DerekDlngr) September 1, 2021

Despite the declines, CMS students in many subgroups performed better on Math 3 assessments, and results showed improvement in the percentage of students scoring 17 or better on the ACT exam. The ACT results for CMS students were actually 61% better than the statewide percentage.

“We will improve student outcomes by focusing on individual student needs because every student arrives at the start of this school year in a much different place than pre-COVID,” Winston said.

CMS leaders have echoed N.C. Department of Public Instruction officials that due to an abnormal school year in the past 18 months, these results are not directly comparable to previous years.

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The district still says challenges must be addressed and the results will be helpful in guiding a response and creating recovery steps.

“We believe in our strategic plan and in the ability of our teachers, support staff and administrators to help our students accelerate learning,” said Winston. “We know getting back on track to make sure our students are ready for college and careers is going to take a multiyear effort, and we have already begun implementing actions to help us get there.”

Among action steps already in place or soon to be implemented are:

Using as much as $50 million of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to provide additional teaching and support for students in CMS’ 42 lowest performing schools
Ensuring all schools have adequate social and emotional learning support staff to help students as they process the effects of disrupted education and other impacts of the pandemic; this includes having school-based mental health centers at 130 CMS schools
Focusing additional staff on support for students and families for whom English is not the first language; this includes 34 bilingual advocates and five full-time translators at schools where such needs are greatest
A dedicated effort to combat chronic absenteeism, with expansion of programs at three high schools with acute need
A continuous improvement approach to teaching and learning, reviewing the success of actions implemented and revising course as necessary to help improve outcomes

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