Program Abstract – Description of Need

In 2013, the WSFCS District completed a Needs Assessment reported that the expansion of free-reduced lunch to larger numbers of students adversely impacted the resources available to families and to schools. Also, it was noted that achievement gap data suggested substantial gaps between Black and Hispanic groups verses White students at all levels and for all subjects. Further, data demonstrated that a number of schools (28%) scored growth below the state average and that Title I school had the same percentage as the district and had only 6% of schools in the above-average range compared to 24% for the district.

Since 2013, the district has continued to perform below the state. Most recently, for the 2015-16 school year, 33 of the 72 schools in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County system (46%), received school-performance grades of D or F. In contrast, more than 75 percent of public schools overall earned grades of C or better and the proportion of schools receiving D’s and F’s fell to less than a quarter of all schools — a decline of nearly 20 percent among schools with the lowest grades over the last three years. This outcome points to perhaps a widening gap between the school system’s highest-performing schools and it’s lowest — a gap that often mirrors the one between the system’s wealthiest schools and its poorest.

Also, by comparison, fewer than 60 percent of Forsyth County schools managed to meet or exceed their expected growth meaning those schools taught their kids at least as much as would be expected in a given year; while nearly 75 percent of public schools in the state managed to meet or exceed their expected growth. With respect to urban districts, Forsyth County had only one school in this category compared to three, nine or — in the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Schools, 11 schools. Also, more than 80 percent of schools in Cumberland, Guilford and Mecklenburg counties’ public school systems met or exceed their expected growth. These results clearly indicate that Forsyth County schools are not performing as well as other urban districts and as a result our community is at risk of attracting and sustaining viable businesses and neighborhoods.

In recognizing this threat to the health of our community, a number of initiatives are being undertaken to improve our students and schools academic performance ratings with the majority of them focused on the school readiness (pre-K) and 3rd grade reading proficiencies. We must also understand our community’s well-being is also connected to the performance of our present day middle and high school students and that resources are also needed to support the academic achievement of these students who are also at risk of academic failure. The proposed project for which we are seeking funding support is such a project as it is designed for students that are identified as being most at risk of academic failure.