By Rebecca Holloway
The Round Table
Northern High School
This story appeared originally in The Round Table, the school newspaper of Northern High School which has partnered with the Durham VOICE.
Northern is no longer classified as a low-performing school by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Sixty – one percent of students taking EOC exams passed in 2010-2011, up from 59 percent in 2009-2010. That growth rate was the highest among Durham public high schools.
Civics and economics are the only EOC exams to have shown a decline in scores. The percentage of students who passed declined from 61 to 55 percent.
Classes that have shown slight improvement in the percentage of passing students are US History, from 66 to 69 percent; English, from 61 to 64 percent; Biology, from 65 to 67 percent and Algebra II, from 69 to 71 percent.
Physical Science and Algebra I have shown very significant increases, with Physical Science improving from 39 to 48 percent and Algebra I improving from 51 to 59 percent.
“There was a time when NHS had the highest math scores in the district,” math teacher Dorothy Mabe said. “Over the years, scores declined. We reached [the] bottom and lesson preparations changed. But in recent years, with collaborative teachers finding ways to improve test scores, they’ve gone up.”
Many steps have been taken to help students’ grades and test scores improve.
“The scores I’ve seen are about the same, maybe only a slight improvement,” science teacher Joshua Roberts said. “We do more quizzes than we used to, but most of them don’t count. It lets me see how they’re doing. We also do labs and activities.”
Mabe likes to design her tests so that they are similar to the EOCs.
“It gets the students used to the layout of the actual tests,” Mabe said.
Some students feel that the teachers, and not just their teaching methods, are the cause of test scores rising.
“The scores have improved because better teachers have been hired, and I have really good teachers I know how to communicate with,” junior James Dearr said. “My test scores have really improved.”
The number of low-performing schools in the DPS system declined by 60 percent dropping from five low-performance schools to only two. Nine of Durham’s schools exceeded a five point gain in proficiency. Although the gains do not seem like much of an increase, they make a huge impact on the school and students.
“I’m proud of myself,” said sophomore Terrence Joseph. “My scores have improved drastically because I study for really long hours. I like EOCs because they make me realize how much I’ve progressed over the years.”
Hard work might just be what could keep NHS a high-performing school.
“I’m sure that we can stay at the top,” sophomore Shamar Pierce said. “We’ve done it before; we can keep doing it. People just have to put effort in to their work.”