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UCPS continues to outperform state and large districts

Test results show return to pre-pandemic levels in several academic areas

Union County Public Schools (UCPS) and the North Carolina State Board of Education announced academic and school accountability results for the 2022-2023 school year. During the Sept. 6 Union County Board of Education meeting, staff released data for school performance grades, district and grade level proficiency rates, growth, math course rigor, four-year cohort graduation rate and career and college readiness.

While the state of North Carolina and many school districts across the country are continuing to recover from academic loss during the pandemic, senior leaders reported that proficiency in UCPS has returned to pre-pandemic levels in eight academic and college/career readiness areas.

The data shows that UCPS continues to outperform the state and the 12 largest districts in multiple testing and accountability areas. Overall proficiency on state assessments was 69.3 percent, ranking UCPS the highest among the 12 largest districts and number two across the state.

Graduation Rate

The UCPS 2023 cohort graduation rate remains at 92.3 percent and continues to be the highest among the 12 largest districts. This graduation cohort began high school in the 2019-2020 school year, which was during the pandemic.

School Performance Grades

School Performance Grades (SPG) are an essential part of the NC Accountability Model. SPGs are comprised of 80 percent proficiency and 20 percent growth. State data shows that 84 percent or 42 out of 50 schools met or exceeded expected growth. In 2018-2019, 86 percent or 43 out of 50 schools earned the same growth data. Please note: Three schools, South Providence, Walter Bickett Education Center and Wolfe School participate in the Alternative Accountability Model.

In 2022-2023, 42 out of 50 or 84 percent of schools earned a SPG of A, B or C. In addition, UCPS has decreased its number of low-performing schools from 13 in 2021-2022 to seven in 2022-2023, reflecting a change of 46.2 percent. Of the 12 largest districts, UCPS had the biggest decrease of low-performing schools.

Student Proficiency

State test results from the 2022-2023 school year show that 69.3 percent of students were Grade Level Proficient (GLP) and 51.6 percent were College and Career Ready (CCR). The state reported 53.6 percent GLP and 35.7 percent CCR for 2022-2023.

“The educators in UCPS are dynamic and they are to be commended for these strong gains and so much more,” said Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan. “The data is a result of the proven strategies that we know are working for our students. We have seen improvements each year since the pandemic. It has not been easy, but our teachers, principals and administrators are doing an amazing job providing high-quality instruction every day.”

For elementary End-of-Grade (GLP) reading, math and science, UCPS showed an increase across the board in grades three through five. Most notably, fourth-grade math jumped from 70.9 percent in 2021-2022 to 75.2 percent in 2022-2023, and fifth-grade math increased by four percentage points.

In addition, at the secondary levels, UCPS saw gains in seventh-grade reading and seventh-grade math. High School End-of-Course Proficiency (GLP) showed solid gains in NC Math I—58.1 percent in 2022-2023, compared to 50.9 percent in 2021-2022. In NC Math 3, 76.5 percent in 2022-2023, up from 70.4 percent in 2021-2022, and in Biology, scores went from 65.9 percent in 2021-2022 to 66.7 percent in 2022-2023.

“We are on the right track, but there is still room for improvement,” Houlihan said. “We will focus on continuous growth at all levels, and pay close attention to our middle schools and subject areas that had a decrease.”

UCPS Accountability Highlights

  • Among the 12 largest districts, UCPS ranked the highest in 3 – 8 Math EOGs, 3 – 8 Reading EOGs, 3 – 8 Science EOGs, all EOCs combined, overall proficiency, four-year Cohort Graduation Rate and ACT/Workkeys combined.
  • UCPS ranked number two in the state in overall proficiency at 69.3 percent. The North Carolina overall proficiency rate is 53.6 percent.
  • UCPS decreased the number of low-performing schools from 13 in 2021-2022 to seven in 2022-2023, which is a change of 46.2 percent. Of the 12 largest districts, UCPS had the biggest decrease of low-performing schools.
  • UCPS increased the number of schools earning an A, B or C School Performance Grade. In 2022-2023, 84 percent of schools or 42 out of 50 earned a C or higher, compared to 37 out of 50 in 2021-2022.
  • UCPS increased the number of schools that either met or exceeded expected growth. In 2022-2023, 84 percent of schools met this criteria, compared to 60 percent the previous year.

UCPS also released several 2022-2023 non-accountability performance indicators.

  • UCPS students earned 12,981 Career and Technical Education (CTE) credentials, compared to 11,135 in 2021-2022.
  • A total of 5,779 students took Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2022-2023. This is up from 5,012 in 2021-2022.
  • The district’s Advanced Placement (AP) exam pass rate is 69 percent. The 2021-2022 pass rate was 68.5 percent.