Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has received widespread national recognition for its academic excellence and innovation. Here are some highlights of recent district achievements and successes.
The district was the winner of the 2011 Broad Prize for Urban Education. Awarded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the prize awards $550,000 in scholarship money and is the largest such prize in the nation. The award is given to a school district that is simultaneously raising achievement and narrowing achievement gaps.
The district’s cohort graduation rate has improved by 15.2 percentage points since 2010, rising from 69.9 percent in 2010 to 85.1 in 2014. This increase has exceeded the growth in the state graduation rate, which was 83.9 percent in 2014. The graduation rates for all subgroups has also increased over the same period. For students in the Career and Technical Education programs offered by CMS, the cohort graduation rate in 2014 was 95.6 percent.
Twenty-two of the district’s magnet schools were recognized in 2014 for excellence and distinction by the national Magnet Schools of America.On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the nation’s report card, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has consistently been a top performer. CMS is part of the NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which compares the performance of students in 21 selected cities. CMS placed first in fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics and second in fourth- and eighth-grade reading in 2013. The district’s percentages of students who scored at or above proficient on the tests exceeded those for the nation’s public schools and large cities.
In 2014, the district’s proficiency scores increased in all tested areas, rising from nine to 18 points in reading, math, science, English and biology.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools consistently produces large numbers of students who earn invitations to the North Carolina Governor’s School, the nation’s oldest statewide summer residential program for academically gifted students. Thirty-two students from CMS were invited to attend the 2015 Governor’s School.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is a partner in 100Kin10, a multi-sector network to fuel the next generation of innovators. This national initiative seeks to recruit, prepare and retain 100,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers by 2021.Students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools also showed gains in percentages of students demonstrating readiness for college and career on end-of-year tests in English, math and biology. The district’s results were higher than the state average, and also higher than many of the large districts in the state.
Profiency rates on state end-of-year tests have also increased among subgroups. All subgroups in grades three through eight are seeing gains in math and reading, with black and Hispanic students showing the highest increases in subgroups. This means that the district is continuing to close the achievement gap between groups of students. All subgroups are also showing improvement in science, English II, math and biology.
Another measurement of academic progress is monitoring growth in achievement at individual schools. North Carolina puts schools in one of three categories: exceeded expected growth, met expected growth or did not meet expected growth. In 2013-2014, 127 of 156 CMS schools, or 82.8 percent, met or exceeded expected growth, compared to 81.4 percent a year earlier.
District performance on the SAT, a test used to measure students’ readiness for college work, also improved in 2013-2014. CMS showed a gain in average scores of 18 points, higher than the state gains. The average score in CMS was 1491, compared to 1483 for North Carolina and 1497 for the nation.
The CMS composite scores on the ACT, another test which measures student readiness for college, rose by fourth-tenths of a point in English, two-tenths of a point in reading and three-tenths of a point in math, for an overall composite score of 18.7, an increase of two-tenths of a point over the prior year.
The International Baccalaureate program is globally recognized for its academic rigor and excellence. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has 19 programs at 15 schools -- more than any other district in North Carolina.
CMS encourages all students to take Advanced Placement courses and exams because these tests show readiness for college-level work. The number of students taking at least one AP course in CMS in 2014 was 7,687, an increase of 67 percent over the prior year.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is ranked fourth in the nation in the number of National Board-certified teachers, with 1,995 teachers who have earned the prestigious certification.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has an innovative, diverse approach to developing school leadership. The district’s Strategic Staffing/Leadership Pipeline Development, which is funded in part by the Wallace Foundation, has been recognized with a Magna Award from the National School Boards Association in 2013.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education has been recognized for excellence in governance by the Council of Urban Board of Education, which gave the district an Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence in 2013. It is the only board of education in North Carolina to win the award.