Test scores show strong gains for KCS

Test scores show strong gains for KCS
Posted on 09/05/2018
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Kannapolis City Schools’ focus on increasing academic achievement has led to strong gains across the system. As a result, the district has seen major improvements in student success. Test scores released today show that Kannapolis City Schools’ graduation rate has soared to above the state average. It hit a district record of 86.5% in 2018. In addition, five of eight KCS schools met or exceeded growth. Nearly every KCS school showed significant academic gains in 2018, and the district has been removed from the state’s low-performing list.


“This is a good day for Kannapolis City Schools and our community.” said Dr. Chip Buckwell, KCS Superintendent. “It shows that really hard work by talented educators can produce great results for kids. We’re still not where we want to be in Kannapolis City Schools, but today’s results show that we are absolutely doing the right things to raise achievement and help our kids succeed. I’m so proud of our staff for all they have done to add opportunities for our students and do the right thing for kids. I know we’ll see even more gains in the future.”


The chart below shows a summary of the test scores released today by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  


School Name

School Performance Grade

Academic Growth Status

Achievement Composite

Growth Composite

Overall Performance Composite

Forest Park Elementary






Fred L. Wilson Elementary






G.W. Carver Elementary


Not Met




Jackson Park Elementary






Shady Brook Elementary


Not Met




Woodrow Wilson Elementary






Kannapolis Middle School






A.L. Brown High School


Not Met





The chart above includes School Performance Grades for each school. The North Carolina legislature requires using test scores to give every school in the state a School Performance Grade. At the high school level, 80% of the grade is based on results from a variety of performance measures: end of course tests, four-year graduation rate, ACT scores, WorkKeys results, and the percentage of students successfully completing higher level math. Only 20% of a high school’s grade is based on how much academic growth students make. For K-8 schools, 80% of their grade is based on end of grade test results while just 20% is based on academic growth.

The chart above also shows an achievement score for each school. That number reflects how many students scored at or above a level 3 on standardized tests, and it makes up 80% of the school’s grade. The Growth Composite shows how much academic improvement students made in one school year. The results for Kannapolis City Schools show strong academic growth for nearly every school, but that level of educational improvement only makes up 20% of each school’s letter grade.

Kannapolis City Schools also showed improvement in nearly every subject area for the 2017-18 school year. The chart below shows that overall achievement increased by 1.5 percentage points, and K-8 achievement rose by 2.3 percentage points. KCS also saw strong increases in Reading, Science, and English II.

Achievement by Subject

KCS Total % proficient

(Levels 3–5)

Comparison to 2017 KCS proficiency rates

All subjects



End of Grade Tests












End of Course Tests









English II




The increased achievement in Kannapolis City Schools is the result of several years of changes and improvements across the district. In addition to adding magnet programs to the district for the first time in 2017-18, KCS has made other changes over the last several years to give students more options and provide staff with more resources and training. The district also has focused on reducing turnover.

“I think consistency is really important for success,” says Dr. Chip Buckwell. “When school started last week, all of our principals were opening school at their current buildings for at least the second year, and most of them have been at their current schools for several years. That’s critical for helping staff, students, and parents know what to expect, and it means that we’re building experience and creating strong cultures at all our schools. I’m really pleased with the culture we’re establishing as a district.”

Some of the steps KCS has taken to raise proficiency rates include adding supports for teachers, students, and principals across the district. KCS is providing extra professional development that’s focused on making sure students get a deeper understanding of all their subjects. Teachers are constantly updating lesson plans and curriculum documents to make sure instruction is focused and effective. The district also is providing high quality, ongoing feedback to teachers and principals to give them extra support for improving achievement. Instructional Coaches have gotten specialized professional development to help them give more support to classroom teachers, and KCS has added ways to monitor student progress during the year to make sure students get personalized instruction in the areas where they most need help.

Kannapolis City Schools also added magnet programs during the 2017-18 school year. It was the first time KCS had offered magnet programs. The new programs in A+ Arts, Global Studies, and Spanish Language Immersion are open to elementary students living anywhere within the KCS district, which means more options for students and families. Other innovative elementary-level programs the district has added include Classrooms of Tomorrow, Real School Gardens, and Learn Well/Live Well. KCS also has added STEM programs at all schools. In addition, KCS has started courses at the middle and high school levels in Engineering, Information Technology, and Graphic Design that give students broader options. The district has added internship and apprenticeship programs as well as career and technical courses that keep more students in school and give them job and scholarship opportunities after graduation. During the 2017-18 school year, Kannapolis City Schools’ students earned $2.5 million in college scholarships, and the system’s graduation rate jumped by nearly a percentage point to reach its highest level in district history: 86.5%.

Under the school performance grading system, schools that receive a D or F are considered low performing unless they exceed the state’s expectations for academic growth. Kannapolis Middle School showed extremely strong academic growth during the 2017-18 school year. Therefore, it exceeded growth expectations and is no longer considered a low performing school. Jackson Park Elementary and Fred L. Wilson Elementary also showed significant academic improvement in 2017-18 school year and have come off of the state’s low performing school list. Those three schools either improved their student performance by a full letter grade or exceeded academic growth expectations. Jackson Park Elementary did both. That level of improvement along with strong performance from Forest Park Elementary and Woodrow Wilson Elementary means that, as a system, KCS is no longer considered a low performing school district by the state.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has posted additional data for schools, districts, and the state at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting/. The information released today will be included in the North Carolina School Report Card, which will be sent to all parents in late November.  

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