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5 Things to Know: Advocates Push Back on School Performance Grades

...and four more stories from Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2022

gender support plan, school performance grades
The NC Department of Instruction released its first school performance grades in three years this week, but some wish they’d stay gone. (Stock photo)

Advocates Push Back on School Performance Grades

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) this week released its annual school report cards, which grade each school in the state based mainly on test scores along with other factors such as graduation rates (high schools) and English language assessments (elementary and middle schools). Though NCDPI began administering the annual school performance grades following the 2013-14 school year, this is the first time they’ve released grades since 2019 due to the pandemic. 

This year’s report card showed that just over half (50.2%) of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) students passed their state exams, just behind the state average of 51.4% and a sharp drop from the 59.8% that CMS recorded in 2018-19. Just 34.8% of CMS students are deemed college- or career-ready, according to the latest report. 

North Carolina schools that receive a D or F as their performance grade are considered low-performing and are required to notify parents of such and develop a plan to improve performance. Of 177 North Carolina schools that received performance grades this year, 54 received Ds and 27 received Fs, compared to just 7 Fs in 2018-19. 

Many advocates for students and educators say the school performance grades are misleading, however, and lead to more inequity in the state education system because they favor affluent schools. 

“If we continue to utilize this flawed school grading system without committing critical, targeted resources to our most vulnerable populations, the relationship between poverty and test scores will persist indefinitely,” said Keith Poston, president and executive director of advocacy organization Public School Forum of North Carolina, in a 2019 report titled “Yes, ‘A’ Still Stands for Affluent in NC School Performance Grades.

Michael Parker West, an assistant principal at an elementary school in Cary, tweeted in response to a WRAL headline announcing the new school performance grades with a suggested alternative headline on Thursday: “After decades of deliberate divestment, state leaders shocked at school proficiency outcomes and settle on blaming kids, families, and teachers for failures of state and public policy.”


Police Shoot Man in Concord Mills Mall

Concord Police officers shot a man who they say fired at them first inside Concord Mills mall on Wednesday afternoon. Shots broke out during a chase through the mall after police responded to a call about three men stealing a credit card. The man who was shot was in critical condition as of Thursday night, and he has not yet been identified.

Two other suspects who were allegedly with the man — both 21 years old, one from Charlotte and the other from Kannapolis — have been arrested. Police stated that the man flashed a gun during the foot chase, which began around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday and involved two officers. They reportedly yelled at him to drop the weapon, at which time he fired at least one shot, striking the ground in front of an officer, before they both returned fire. It’s unclear how many times the man was struck. 

Concord Mills reopened on Thursday morning. 


City Expands Community Outreach Efforts for Arts & Culture Plan

The City of Charlotte and the Arts and Culture Advisory Board on Friday announced an expansion of community outreach efforts to help inform the Charlotte Arts and Culture Plan. The expansion includes additional targeted public engagement events in September and October as well as tools that residents, artists, creatives, patrons and funders can use to help inform the plan, including an online survey

The 10-year plan will determine how resources and funding can achieve sustainability and growth across the entire creative sector in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area while identifying opportunities for more collaboration among individuals, organizations and other partners, according to a release sent out by the city on Friday. 

events, jazzarts
The Arts and Culture Plan will determine how arts are supported in our city over the next decade. (Photo courtesy of JazzArts)

The announcement comes following some controversy around the Arts and Culture Plan during the most recent Charlotte City Council meeting on Aug. 22, during which council members Braxton Winston and Tariq Bokhari voiced their concerns that the vision of council itself is not being considered by the newly formed Arts and Culture Advisory Board, among other issues.

Newly announced events include in-person and virtual meetings, and many are focused on specific communities such as creatives in the visual arts, film and media, business and philanthropy, arts education, and music, among other fields. You can find a full list of the upcoming events and more info about the Arts and Culture Plan at the city’s website


Student Loan Forgiveness to be Taxed in NC

Business Insider reported on Friday that the North Carolina Department of Revenue has confirmed that President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program will be counted as taxable income in the state, making it the second state where such rules will apply.

Student loan forgiveness will be exempt from federal tax, but a loophole resulting from the North Carolina General Assembly failing to fully adopt the federal Internal Revenue Service Code allows the state to collect taxes on student loan forgiveness. 

Biden announced the student loan forgiveness plan on Aug. 24, allowing for up to $10,000 — or $20,000 in some cases — of forgiveness for borrowers who currently make less than $125,000 a year. 


Two People Killed in Separate Shootings This Week

Shortly after 2:13 p.m. on Monday, police responded to a call to assist Medic on Sharon Road West in southwest Charlotte, where they found 59-year-old William Gotherman III suffering from a gunshot wound. Medic pronounced Gotherman dead at the scene. Investigators identified a 17-year-old as a suspect and arrested him on Tuesday. He’s been charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

 

Shortly before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to a shooting call on Rose Ridge Place in the Pressley Ridge Apartments in southwest Charlotte, where they found two victims suffering from gunshot wounds. One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene while the other was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The victim who lost their life has not yet been identified. 


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