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'Clear and drastic impact of interrupted instruction': CMS releases end-of-year test results

The CMS 4-year cohort graduation rate dropped just under 2 points to 83.6%. In 2015, the graduation rate was 88%.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools released the results of its end-of-year testing Wednesday, with Superintendent Earnest Winston saying recovering from the pandemic will be a "multi-year effort."

Winston said the results weren't unexpected but they are also not acceptable. During a news conference Wednesday, CMS said the percentage of students scoring College and Career Ready (CCR) in every grade, in every subject with the exception of Math 3, has greatly declined. The CMS 4-year cohort graduation rate dropped just under 2 points to 83.6%. In 2015, the graduation rate was 88%. 

"These results [were] not unexpected but I will also tell you they were not acceptable," said Superintendent Earnest Winston at the news conference. 

Last school year was difficult for many students and teachers, with remote learning struggles, technology failures and distractions while trying to learn at home. Last year, CMS identified roughly 65,000 students who failed at least one core class. One student had 150 unexcused absences and failed all six core classes but was promoted to the next grade. 

"To think a child fails six classes out of nine and you pass them," Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack said. "If that’s what they’re doing, these children are destined to fail.”

Fall 2020 End of Course tests showed that half of the students showed learning loss in biology compared to the previous school year. In Math 1, the percentage of not proficient students nearly doubled. 

This time around, there were substantial drops across the board in every subject, at every grade level, and with every racial group. 

"We are going to be recovering for  multiple years from the educational and instructional impacts," said Dr. Frank D. Barnes, the district's chief equity officer. 

Winston said the numbers were not surprising but still sent a jolt. The work toward recovery isn't just kicking off, though. It started weeks ago. The first step was getting kids back to in-person learning. The next step: assess kids in September to see where they really are now.

Other solutions include spending $50 million over the next three years to form partnerships with organizations that offer extra help to 42 low performing CMS schools.

The district will also add 45 minutes of added reading time to everyday class instruction in grades K-3. 

Barnes also said the district will add 20 more counselors, social workers and psychologists to the district to help students. 

School officials plan to check in periodically throughout the year to see if recovery efforts are working.

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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