Just the facts: Go-to sites for Chatham County stats

Providing fact-based information on the strengths and needs of our local public schools is vital to CEF’s mission of engaging our community as public school advocates, as well as to garnering financial support. As the marketing manager for the Chatham Education Foundation, I have to rifle through a lot of websites to find accurate, up-to-date data on Chatham County. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so I’d like to share a few of my go-to sites with you. If you’re new to Chatham County, or even if you’ve been ensconced here for awhile, you might be surprised at what you learn. 

The Roadmap of Need
Published biennially by the Public School Forum of North Carolina at ncforum.org/roadmap

Last updated in November 2023, this Roadmap, which the Forum calls “A Whole Child Needs Assessment for North Carolina Youth,” provides county-level data and rankings in five areas: economic development, physical health, mental health and safety, education inputs, and education outcomes. Click on the Chatham County link and you’ll see all of Chatham’s data compared to the state’s overall data in one place. Our county’s median household income, for example, is $82,764, which is higher than the state average of $61,997, ranking Chatham 3rd in median household income. Information is also presented in charts comparing all of the counties in each of the five areas, as well as in an at-a-glance chart with each county’s overall ranking in each of the five areas. In the latter, Chatham is ranked 4th in economic development and 78th in education inputs, which includes state, local, and federal expenditures as well as teacher vacancies.

County Attainment Profiles
Compiled as data is available by myFutureNC at dashboard.myfuturenc.org

This statewide nonprofit’s goal is ensuring that by 2030, 2 million North Carolinians have a high-quality credential or a postsecondary degree. According to myFutureNC’s dashboard, as of 2021, North Carolina had about 1.55 million adults aged 25-44 meeting this goal, which is 31,000 individuals below where the state needs to be to reach the 2 million by 2030 goal. To track progress, myFutureNC gathers stats on the following indicators: academic readiness, college and career access, postsecondary completion, and workforce alignment. Then, for each county, myFutureNC compiles a robust county attainment profile with data for each indicator. In addition, the profiles detail general county information such as population growth (Did you know Chatham County grew by 12,780 people between the 2010 and 2020 census?), households with broadband access (85%), and child poverty rate (15.4%). Each profile also highlights “top opportunities for growth,” which, in Chatham County, include student-to-school counselor ratio and math performance. 

School Performance Grades
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction reports school performance grades annually at ncreports.ondemand.sas.com/src. Report cards for the 2022-23 school year were released in September 2023.

These are the report cards people reference when searching for a new home. Buyers want to make sure they will be moving to a “good” school district, and, if they have children, that they will attend high performing schools. As with all data, it’s important to understand how it’s being reported. For example, on NCDPI’s report cards, 80 percent of a school’s score is based on achievement, while 20 percent is based on growth. So while Chatham County has only one school with a letter grade of A, the majority of the schools—78.9 percent—are meeting (shown in green) or exceeding (shown in orange) academic growth. Each district has an overall profile showing statistics such as average classroom size, teacher qualifications, and graduation rate (Chatham’s rose 3 points in 2022-23 to 89 percent).
Beyond the letter grades on the individual school report cards, data includes everything from percentage of economically disadvantaged students to number of school suspensions to number of wireless access points per classroom. 

Read this story with clickable links on CEF’s website at ChathamEducationFoundation.org. You can also find links to these websites and more at ChathamEducationFoundation.org/public-education-news.

Article by: Cate House

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