Wilson freshmen held back at highest rate

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Ninth-graders were held back from advancing to 10th grade at more than twice the combined average rate as all other grades in Wilson County Schools in the last academic year, according to a report presented to Wilson County Board of Education members on Monday.

Chairwoman Christine Fitch presented the report on behalf of the board’s instructional services committee.

“Out of 11,365 total student population, we had 831 retentions for 7.3 percentage points,” Fitch said.

A report on retentions in all grades during the 2017-18 academic year indicated that high school freshmen were held back at a much higher rate than students overall.

“Our largest retention rate was at ninth-grade level, 153 students out of 1,031 for a 15 percent retention rate,” Fitch said.

About one in 10 sophomores were also held back. The analysis counted 94 of 907 sophomores, or 10 percent, as having been held back from advancing to 11th grade.

“We know that we have work to do and we continue to do that as we have increased our performance and put things in place,” Fitch said. “We are looking forward to reducing those numbers even more.”

A per-grade breakdown of the retention rates is as follows:

Among kindergartners, 75 of 826 students were retained, which is 9 percent of kindergarteners.

Some 83 of 868 first-grade students were retained, meaning that 10 percent were held back.

Of second-graders, 55 of 903 students, or 6 percent, were retained.

Among third-graders, 51 of 956 or 5 percent, were retained.

Some 46 of 932, of 5 percent, of fourth-graders were held back.

In fifth grade, some 30 of 895 students, or 3 percent, were retained.

Some 47 of 837, or 6 percent, of sixth-graders were retained.

For the seventh grade, some 66 of 818, or 8 percent, were held back from advancing to the next grade.

Eighth-grade students had 6 percent, or 49 of 815 students, retained.

Some 50 of 747, or 7 percent, of 11th graders were retained.

Among 12th graders, some 32 of 795, or 4 percent of students, were retained.

The school system also counted 13th graders, who basically consist of Wilson Early College Academy students taking college-level courses, but none of them were held back.

Other than Fitch, board members had no comments on the findings.

In other business, the board:

• agreed to a replacement and relocation of a state 1-A baseball championship sign at Rock Ridge Elementary School. The sign, which had been located at the ball field and been damaged by vandals, will now be replaced and relocated to a grassy area between the entrance of the school and the parking lot.

• agreed to install a historical marker recognizing Henry Trevathan, head coach of the Fike High School football team from 1964-69 and the teams who won three state 4-A championships, among many other accomplishments. The marker’s location has yet to be determined.

• passed Policy 9000, Planning to Address Facility Needs, on a second reading.

• passed Policy 9200, Care and Maintenance of Facilities, on a second reading.

• passed Policy 7920, Reduction in Force: Teachers and School Administrators, and Policy 7921, Classified Personnel Reduction, both on a second reading, though the board did not indicate any plans for reductions in school personnel.

• nominated the Gentlemen’s Agreement as an entry to the National School Boards Association Magna Award.

• removed from the budget consideration of a revision of the school system’s 2018-19 school calendar in response to days missed from Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

• heard a request from board member Beverly Boyette to revisit the board’s public input policy, which Chairwoman Fitch agreed to have placed on the Nov. 19 meeting agenda.