FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2019
State Releases Data on UNC System Operated Laboratory Schools
CHAPEL HILL, NC – Today the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released new student achievement data for the five Laboratory Schools operated by UNC System universities. The student achievement results for 2018-19 show encouraging signs of positive momentum, opportunities for improvement, and highlight the significant challenge that Lab Schools are designed to address.
Because the Lab Schools are operated by UNC System educator preparation programs, they provide unique opportunities to test and research innovative ideas in teacher training. The mission of the state’s Laboratory Schools initiative is to improve opportunities for students who previously attended a low-performing school or are themselves behind academically.
“The students that our lab schools are designed to serve often come to school far behind grade level,” said UNC Board of Governors member and Subcommittee on Laboratory Schools Chair Phil Byers. “While this year’s data show clear areas for improvement, we also see signs of growth in student achievement and look forward to reviewing future results as our institutions work to accelerate those gains. Our subcommittee will provide every support we can to ensure that these schools and their students are successful.”
These grades reflect the first set of state test results for three of the Laboratory Schools: Appalachian Academy at Middle Fork in Walkertown (Appalachian State University), Moss Street Partnership School in Reidsville (UNC Greensboro), and the DC Virgo Preparatory Academy in Wilmington (UNC Wilmington). The Catamount School at Western Carolina University and the ECU Community School at East Carolina University both have data for two testing years.
The ECU Community School met expected growth targets and registered gains in reading and math proficiency in year two. The Academy at Middle Fork also met expected growth targets in its first year. At the Catamount School, 60 percent of students met or exceeded proficiency in reading.
Under the school accountability framework in North Carolina, each public school receives a letter grade that reflects both achievement scores (80 percent of the calculation) and academic growth (20 percent). Two laboratory schools—the Catamount School and Academy at Middle Fork—were assigned an overall grade of “D,” and the remaining three received an “F.”
“Through the Laboratory Schools initiative, five of our universities have an opportunity to build new public schools that serve many of North Carolina’s most underserved students,” said UNC System interim President Bill Roper. “Opening a new school is important and challenging work, and we stand with the chancellors, school leaders, teachers and staff at each of the lab schools. We remain committed to working with our universities and the Board of Governors to ensure that the program is a success.”
The first two Lab Schools opened in 2017 at ECU and Western Carolina. Three additional schools opened in 2018: the Academy at Middle Fork in Walkertown (Appalachian State University), Moss Street Partnership School in Reidsville (UNC Greensboro), and the DC Virgo Preparatory Academy in Wilmington (UNC Wilmington). UNC Charlotte will open a sixth Laboratory School in fall of 2020.