- Watauga County Schools
WCS sees record graduation rate, strong test scores, enrollment gains
Students in Adrienne Stumb’s class at Bethel School gather around a castle during a until on Middle Ages history.
School performance data released by the N.C. State Board of Education shows that Watauga County Schools has improved its four year graduation rate for the second year running, reaching a record high of 91.2 percent. The school system exceeded a 90 percent graduation rate for the first time last year.
In addition to the steadily improving graduation rate, the data shows that Watauga County Schools met or exceeded the performance standards set by the state in nearly every category, including some first in state ranks.
Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott said the positive results from the state performance data were a reflection of the quality teachers and staff in the district, and the system’s continued dedication to be the best place to learn and work in North Carolina.
“Watauga County Schools is fortunate to be served by the best teachers and staff I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” Elliott said. “Their commitment to engaging the hearts and minds of our students inspires them to grow and to succeed, not just in our schools, but in college and the world of work.”
Scoring well across the board, Watauga County Schools showed particular strength in seventh and eighth reading end-of-grade tests, ranking first in the state in those categories.
Watauga County Schools also netted statewide top five ranks in average end-of-grade test scores, seventh-grade EOGs, eighth-grade EOGs, seventh and eighth-grade math EOGs and third-eighth grade reading EOGs.
Kindergartners at Bethel School work through a reading lesson on their classroom tablets.
Along with Watauga’s strong test scores and graduation rate, the district also saw a marked increase in enrollment. The latest available numbers show an increase of 155 students enrolled in the school system since May for a total of 4,645. That number represents the highest level of enrollment growth in over a decade.
Elliott attributed the increase in enrollment to the system’s reputation for high standards and its dedication to continually evaluate its practices to meet the changing needs of students and families.
“I am proud that so many families make the choice to trust us with their children’s education, and I continually want to ensure that we do everything we can to be the best choice possible,” Elliott said. “We’re very fortunate in Watauga County to have a strong foundation in a great school system, but we are always looking for ways to improve,” Elliott said.
Over the summer Watauga County Schools worked to expand offerings in things like career and technical education, art and AIG at the middle school level. The system also opened its doors to home school students, giving homeschool families the ability to dual-enroll at Watauga High School.
“We want to serve as many families as possible in our community, and I believe we offer high quality programs in every school,” Elliott said. “I am especially pleased to welcome so many families this year who previously attended charter schools, private schools, or home schools.”
The school system is also continuing its focus in bringing technology into the classroom. More than 2,500 student Chromebooks were integrated into WCS classrooms with the start of this school year, increasing digital access down to fourth grade. The school system provides one device for every two students in grades four through seven and a take home device for every student in grades eight through 12.
Amy Eberle, first-grade teacher at Hardin Park School walks her class through a science experiment.