Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools showed improvement in 23 areas tested and the district’s graduation rate rose by almost four percentage points in the 2009-2010 school year, according to preliminary state data released July 19. CMS just released the findings today. According to CMS:

The results continued a positive upward trend in CMS since 2006 in nearly all tested areas. Comparisons to other districts for the 209-2010 year, as well as data for academic growth at individual schools, will not be available until the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction releases statewide data in early August, district officials said.
“Overall, we are pleased but not satisfied,” said Dr. Peter C. Gorman, superintendent of CMS. “We want to see the pace of improvement accelerate even more. However, the preliminary results from the 2009-2010 year show that we are continuing to make substantial academic progress in CMS, and that’s good news.”

Gorman also noted in the press release that the gains had taken place “against a backdrop of diminishing resources and staff.” CMS cut $35.1 million from its 2008-2009 budget – the largest local-funding cut in the state – and the cuts eliminated 181 teacher-level positions. There were additional staff cuts in special areas.

While budget cuts sound bad, it’s ironic that test scores and graduation rates have gone up as teaching jobs have been lost.

Retests have helped CMS’s scores go up, which begs the question: is it a fair measurement of student performance if one is allowed to retake the test for a higher score? Further, one teacher who spoke to the Mint Hill Times said she helped proctor a test for one student that lasted more than six hours one day, and a few more hours the next day.

Measuring student performance is not easy to do. But teaching to a test, and then bending over backwards to make sure the student gets a good score doesn’t sounds like the ideal criteria to measure schools.