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School systems contract with state reviewed
Standards source of some frustration to BOE
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH COUNTY — The Forsyth County Board of Education is seeking state approval for the final year of its Investing in Education Excellence, or IE2, contract with the state.

During a special called meeting Thursday, the school system’s assessment coordinator, Karl Mercer, reviewed the situation with the board. Also covered was the plan for the future, which he said would likely be another five-year contract.

“The extension would allow Forsyth County extra time to also negotiate a more long-term IE2 contract,” Mercer said during a public hearing on the matter.

The contract gives the school system flexibility from state mandates in exchange for increased accountability. But Forsyth’s status as a high-performing district has made meeting the accountability standards an “area of frustration.”

“Before, the way [performance targets] were set, we either had to maintain where we were at with our baseline, or we had to cover the gap if there was a gap,” he said.

“We had some schools that may not have met certain subgroups passed on a target of 98 or 99 percent and they’d get 96 percent and they’re deemed as not meeting in that subgroup.”

For the long-term plan, Mercer said he’s looking into accountability standards that are fairer and a better fit for the county.

Board member Ann Crow agreed, noting that the contract held the district to a standard higher than the state’s charter systems.

“My concern is that the IE2 contracts are treated as fairly as the charter systems, which are not having to do what we have to do as far as accountability goes,” she said. “They’re not having to deal with that kind of accountability.

“So at some point, the state has got to recognize that, if we’re high-achieving, then we should at least be treated on the same level as charter systems.”

An area of difficulty is also the state’s 2012 switch from the AYP, or adequate yearly progress, standard to the CCRPI, or College and Career Ready Performance Index.

So measurements and performance data are still up in the air until November. Outgoing Superintendent Buster Evans said the new setup is still a “work in progress.”

According to Evans, measurements need to be “tied to something broader than the new state assessments because we don’t know what that looks like.”

“Whereas IE2, we knew how our students performed on the CRCT,” he said. “We knew that large percentages of them met, but we wanted to move more students from meeting expectations to exceeding expectations.

“I think IE2 will continue to be an option, but I think the real key for us is how we’re able to negotiate our accountabilities that we have.”

Citing the novelty of the index, Evans said there’s another possibility for the school board next year. Instead of asking for a new five-year IE2 contract, “ I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re not here looking at getting another year extension, just because you’ve got to know what those accountability measurements are going to look like.”