A by-the-numbers look at Caldwell's public schools

Jan. 30, 2014 @ 06:41 AM

Data recently released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction offers a look at the makeup of Caldwell County’s public schools, from funding to student performance.

It also offers a look at how the Caldwell County Schools stack up against the state.

Caldwell’s schools are slightly smaller than the state average, with 404 students in the average elementary school, 639 in the average middle school and 751 in the average high school, according to the 2012-13 N.C. School Report Cards. The state average is 497 students in an elementary school, 667 in a middle school and 837 in a high school.

The district also receives less in local and federal funds than the state average, although it receives more federal funds. The Caldwell County Schools receive $1,476 in local funds per student, $5,864 in state funds per student and $976 in federal funds per student, compared to the state average of $2,095 in local funds, $5,394 in state funds and $1,008 in federal funds per student.

In Caldwell, as in most districts, the majority of funding -- 64 percent -- is spent on salaries for teachers, administrators and other staff, and another 22 percent of funding goes to their benefits; 8 percent goes to supplies and materials, and 6 percent to purchased services.

The report cards’ measure of student performance are scores on statewide end-of-grade tests. In Caldwell, 43.3 percent of students are proficient in reading, compared to a state average of 43.9 percent. In math, 36.8 students are proficient, compared to 42.3 percent statewide.

School attendance in Caldwell dovetails with the state’s. Elementary, middle and high schools in Caldwell County see 95 percent average attendance; the numbers are the same across North Carolina.

Other numbers are close as well. The report card data shows that 100 percent of Caldwell classrooms are connected to the Internet, compared to an almost identical percentage -- 99.8 -- across the state.

The “school safety” segment of the report shows fewer violent incidents at Caldwell County schools, compared to state averages. Caldwell’s elementary schools saw 0.14 “acts of crime or violence” per 100 students, compared to 0.22 per 100 students statewide. Caldwell middle schools had 0.63 incidents per 100 students compared to 0.91 across the state, and high schools had 1.2 incidents per 100 students compared to a statewide number of 1.34 incidents per 100 students.

All of Caldwell County’s elementary teachers are fully licensed, meaning they aren’t lateral-entry or emergency-licensed educators. Statewide, 99 percent of elementary teachers share that status.

Ninety-nine percent of Caldwell’s middle-school teachers are fully licensed compared to 95 percent statewide. The district has 96 percent of its high-school teachers highly certified, compared to 93 percent across the state.

A slightly higher number of the district’s administrators -- 23 percent -- have advanced degrees than the state average, 21 percent. Twenty-eight percent of the district’s elementary teachers, 39 percent of its middle-school teachers and 29 percent of its high-school teachers hold advanced degrees.

The majority of Caldwell’s teachers -- 58 percent of elementary teachers, 56 percent of middle-school teachers and 61 percent of high-school teachers -- have 10 or more years of experience. Forty-six percent of the county’s principals are in the zero-to-three year range, while 15 percent have 10 or more years of experience and 39 percent have four to 10 years.

The Caldwell County Schools have a higher principal turnover rate than the state average. Nineteen percent of principals (compared to 10 percent statewide) who were employed in 2011-12 were no longer employed at the same school in 2013-14.

North Carolina has distributed school data through the report card system since 2001, in an effort to show how individual schools and districts perform each year. School-level data is available by visiting www.ncreportcards.org, selecting “Caldwell County Schools” from the box on the right, clicking on the name of the desired school, then clicking “school report card snapshot.”