Go Ahead And Permanently Eliminate School Performance Grades; They Only Map Poverty, Health Care Access, And Food Deserts – Not School Effectiveness

Senate Bill 654 was just signed by Governor Cooper and it waives the use of school performance grades for the 2020-2021 school year.

The data on testing and other measures used to “compile” those grades will still be reported, but no “grades” will be issued for the second year in a row. Remember that NC’s formula for calculating a school’s performance grade is weighted far more toward achievement than for growth (80/20). No other state in the country skews that much toward test results to “measure” school performance.

Such a formula does not really even properly measure the effectiveness of a school. Actually, those school performance grades as they are calculated measure nothing more than the very challenges that students and thier families face that affect a student’s ability to learn.

Below is a map provided by EdNC.org that plots the most recent school performance grades across North Carolina before the pandemic started.


Next is a map of the economic well-being of each NC county as reported be the North Carolina Department of Commerce in 2019.

2019 County Tier Designations

The LIGHTER the shade of blue, the more economic “distress.” This is how it was determined according to the site.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce annually ranks the state’s 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a Tier designation. This Tier system is incorporated into various state programs to encourage economic activity in the less prosperous areas of the state.

The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2 and the 20 least distressed as Tier 3.

Review the 2019 County Tier Designations Memo (published November 30, 2018)

County Tiers are calculated using four factors:

  • Average unemployment rate
  • Median household income
  • Percentage growth in population
  • Adjusted property tax base per capital

The next map is of poverty rates as reported by the Port City Daily on Feb. 18th, 2018.

As of 2016, 17.3 percent of the New Hanover County population lives in poverty. (Port City Daily/Courtesy of USDA Economic Research Service)

Below is a map that considers what areas in NC are considered rural.

“The darker green areas are more rural according to most definitions. Courtesy of the Sheps Center for Health Services Research.”

From the North Carolina Alliance For Health:

That is a map that represents death rates in conjunction to economic transactions and income rates.

And this is from the USDA.gov. It concerns low access to grocery stores.


And then there is access to hospitals. Also from North Carolina Health News:

Imagine how many beds right now are being filled with COVID-19 patients.

Now go back to that map of the school performance grades.


See a pattern?