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School Grades Highlight Success And Struggles In Charlotte And North Carolina

From graduation rates that are strong and rising to reading scores stalled at dismal levels, North Carolina’s annual report on school performance data brought the usual mix of good and bad news for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

In an effort to simplify the data, state legislators mandated school letter grades last year. This year CMS grades nudged up, with 25 of 160 schools going up a grade while 21 dropped. CMS had 12 percent of its schools earning an A or A+, compared with 6 percent of all N.C. public schools. (See maps with grades and other data at the bottom of this story.)

But the numbers raise as many questions and challenges as ever. For instance, CMS now has an on-time graduation rate of 88 percent, up from 70 percent just five years ago and almost 3 points above the state average. The lowest school rate in CMS was 73 percent, at one of the small Olympic high schools, and 18 schools topped 90 percent.

Yet test scores indicate that roughly half the high school students in CMS and across the state lack the English, math and science skills to be ready for college or skilled jobs. And more than half of elementary and middle school students statewide and in CMS fell short of the reading skills needed to put them on track for that kind of success.