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Ocracoke School. Photo by P. Vankevich
Ocracoke School. Photo by P. Vankevich

By Connie Leinbach

Ocracoke School is at the top of the Outer Banks class, according to scores released Thursday by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).

Ocracoke School was the only school in the three Outer Banks counties to earn an A, scoring an 86.

First Flight High School, Kitty Hawk, was close behind with a score of 84, earning a B grade. Manteo High was the third highest scorer with a 79 points and a B.

In Hyde County, Mattamuskeet Early College High School got a D, scoring 45 and Mattamuskeet Elementary a C, scoring 57.

The General Assembly mandated that all public and charter schools in the state be issued letter grades for the 2013-14 results, based on achievement scores and student academic growth.

Connie Leinbach & Walt Padgett 2015-02-06 19.20
Connie Leinbach speaks with Principal Walt Padgett during a break in Friday’s basketball game. Photo by P. Vankevich

“We kicked the butts of all those schools with lots of money,” noted Ocracoke School Principal Walter Padgett during Friday’s basketball games in the school gym, “and we’re the school in the poorest county.”

He noted that all three of Ocracoke school divisions (elementary, middle and high) had to receive As for the entire school to get an A.

As the Dolphins boys basketball team strove against the Plymouth Vikings, Padgett noted that the tests were given to students in grades three to 12, both at the end of the year and at the end of the respective courses.

Lucy O'Neal 2015-02-09 08.44.40
Honor student Lucy O’Neal wasn’t surprised at the School’s ‘A’ Grade. “We are a great school. We’re a great community.” Photo by P. Vankevich

“Eighty percent of the (NC Report Card) grade is testing and 20 percent is to show growth,” Padgett explained.   College entrance exams of SAT and ACT also are a big part of the score along with the graduation rate, which for Ocracoke is 100 percent.  The “growth” component is if a school met or exceeded student academic growth standards.

A small school, even though it has fewer resources than the big school, has an advantage of a low student-to-teacher ratio enabling students to have more teacher attention than other schools, Padgett noted.

The entire Ocracoke School, from pre-K to grade 12, has 160 students, said Leslie Cole, assistant school principal.

“There is much more to a student than merely how they do on a standardized test,” Cole said.  “It is so nice to hear positive and happy news about our school. It is always nice to be recognized for great achievements.”

Padgett praised the school’s teachers and parents for a large part of the students’ success.

“We are a community school supported by our parents,” Padgett continued, noting that Ocracoke has less discipline problems

Nearly half of the schools in North Carolina were given C grades, according to the report.

All of Ocracoke’s school athletic teams have to travel long distances for their games and must do their school work on the various ferries, Padgett noted.

“There’s a real sacrifice our kids have to make to participate in athletics and keep their grades up,” he said.

Eighty percent of the NCDPI grade was determined from the achievement score, which was calculated by the number of students proficient on specific indicators. The other 20 percent came from whether a school met or exceeded student academic growth standards.

“Thank God we’ve got quality teachers here and kids that work at it,” he said.  “Our teachers do a good job of covering everything.  We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”

NCDPI is charged with implementing the state’s public school laws and the State Board of Education’s policies and procedures governing pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public education. The elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction leads the Department and functions under the policy direction of the State Board of Education.

The agency provides leadership and service to the 115 local public school districts and 2,500+ traditional public schools, 100 charter schools, and the three residential schools for students with hearing and visual impairments.

For more information including  how all of the schools were graded,  click here.


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  1. Congratulations.It just goes to show that bigger and richer is not always better. Keep up the good work.

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