The Only Real Conclusion About NC’s School Performance Grades Is That Too Many of Our Students Live In Poverty in a Gerrymandered State

Political leanings and lenses aside, sometimes data can create a picture so vivid that it is really hard to argue against the conclusions.

Just like in recent years, the state of North Carolina this week released its school performance grades for the with pretty some changes in the formula but with a similar conclusion.

Test grades actually went down a little across the state and the Biology EOC exam for high schools was not used, which is rather funny considering that there is such a push for STEM curriculum.

The results really did nothing but reconfirm that the majority of schools which receive low or failing grades are usually schools with high poverty rates in their respective student bodies.

Consider what the first set of grades showed in the very first iterations of the school performance grade system. Go back a few years for example.

Here is a dot map of the 2014-2015 school performance grade map for the state ( . And yes, it is 2018, but not much has changed.


Take notice of the pink and burgundy dots. Those are schools in the “D” and “F” category.

Now look at a map from the repository of information for Free and Reduced lunch eligibility for the same year.


If you could somehow superimpose those two images, you might some frighteningly congruent correlations.

Now look at a map that shows the percentage of African-American students in each county’s population. It is also from the dashboard where the previous two maps were taken.


If I could superimpose all three maps then I could show readers how confident I am that the correlation between the population of African-Americans, poverty, and school performance grades is incredibly strong.

And there is a reason that I have not included other minority groups. That’s because when the Voter ID law was repealed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals a couple of years ago and the subsequent appeal to that decision by the then governor McCrory  was dismissed by the Supreme Court, the courts specifically pointed to the “surgical precision” that the law targeted African-Americans and poorer people.

And remember the  congressional districts, two of which were considered to be “gerrymandered” districts by federal courts, specifically districts 1 and 12. Images come from The News & Observer report  from Feb 6, 2016 entitled “Federal court ruling corrects gerrymandered NC  districts”   (



See any correlation to the maps above with the data that appears in the maps concerning school performance grades, numbers of free and reduced eligible students, and percentages of African-American students? I do.

And it is still happening.

As much as it always has.