Polk County students again sparkle on end-of-year tests

Polk County Schools students and teachers continued to achieve academic excellence in the 2020-21 school year despite dealing with the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Polk County students scored substantially higher than the state average on end-of-year tests, with the district as a whole finishing with 59.8 percent of those tested scoring grade level proficient. That compares to the state average of 45.4 percent.

Schools throughout the district contributed to the above-average performance:

  • Polk County elementary schools exceeded the state average of proficient students in both reading and math by at least 13 percent at every grade level.
  • Polk County Middle School students surpassed the state average in reading at all grade levels and in math in grades six and eight
  • Polk County High School and Polk County Early College students finished above the state average in all tested areas. Their combined four-year graduation rate of 92.4 percent is 5.5 percent higher than the state average, and 63.6% of students earned a 17 or higher composite score on the ACT, 8.4% higher than the state average.

“I want to first say thank you to all of our Polk Schools Family as they worked very hard during the pandemic to continue learning and achieving,” said Superintendent Aaron Greene. “We were fortunate to be able to have more in-person learning for our students than other districts across the state, especially at the elementary level.

“Though we have known it for many years, this year’s results validate that being in school makes a tremendous difference in student performance. Polk County Schools is accustomed to performing well on state assessments, and it appears we have again outpaced other districts. I am proud of our students and educators and thank them for their efforts.”

State officials noted the severe disruption to public education that students and faculty confronted over the past year and a half and during the testing period at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Tests designed to be administered at the same time and based on typical face-to-face classroom instruction were taken under widely varying conditions, often after an entire year of atypical, remote instruction.

Consequently, results are not objectively comparable to previous years, given the many factors that disrupted instruction as well as the administration of the assessments themselves.

The student achievement data for the 2020-21 school year is based on analysis of all end-of-grade (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) tests, which are aligned to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study in English Language Arts (Reading) and Mathematics and the Essential Standards in Science for all public schools in North Carolina.

“While we celebrate our accomplishments, we are still concerned about the learning loss that has occurred over the past 18 months,” Greene said. “It will be very important for us to continue our work in remediating and helping students master missing content and skills.

“I am confident our teachers and families will continue to work hard to ensure our students continue to achieve at high levels.”

Academic IndicatorStatePolk CountyDifference from State
Performance Composite45.459.814.4
Grade 3 Math44.576.131.6
Grade 4 Math 37.859.721.9
Grade 5 Math 42.062.820.8
Grade 6 Math 40.653.512.9
Grade 7 Math 42.537.0-5.5
Grade 8 Math 32.749.316.6
Grade 3 Reading45.169.924.8
Grade 4 Reading 45.161.416.3
Grade 5 Reading 42.458.315.9
Grade 6 Reading 45.360.415.1
Grade 7 Reading 46.753.26.5
Grade 8 Reading 48.264.716.5
Grade 5 Science53.969.215.3
Grade 8 Science70.386.015.7
NC Math 1 (9-12)25.135.510.4
NC Math 3 (9-12)44.646.21.6
English II58.568.610.1
ACT Composite Score55.263.68.4
4-Year Graduation Rate86.992.45.5
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