So how does Wake compare to Charlotte-Mecklenburg academically?
As noted in today's article, it depends on how you look at the data on state exams. Wake folks cite some data showing a big edge over CMS while others look at results showing both districts aren't too far apart.
You guys can decide which one is more relevant.
Folks in Charlotte and critics in Wake point out that low-income students in both districts are performing at about the same rate on state exams.
If you look at the state report cards, the passing rate for low-income students on both the state reading and math end-of-grade exams for Wake is 31.3 percent. It's 31.1 percent in Charlotte.
Both districts are doing below the state average of 33.3 percent for low-income students.
Critics of Wake's diversity policy point out that CMS has largely shrunk the 10-percentage point gap that existed with Wake in 2001-02. That happens to coincide with Charlotte's switch to a largely neighborhood-based school system.
Even using the more generous measure of the percentage of low-income students passing either the math or reading EOG exams, Wake's lead isn't great there either. It's 45.9 percent in Wake and 44.6 percent in CMS.
“We haven’t yet learned how to reach our high-poverty kids,” said Molly Griffin, the chairwoman of the CMS school board, in today's article. “But neither has Wake.”
Wake, on the other hand, glides past that point to focus on the performance of schools. Folks, such as Asst. Supt. David Holdzkom in the article, point out that Wake has far fewer lower performing schools than Charlotte.
In Wake, 83 percent of the schools had a passing rate on state exams of more than 60 percent. On the flip side, 53 percent of Charlotte's schools had a passing rate of 60 percent or lower.
This argument ties into Wake's contention that the diversity policy is preventing schools from getting as unhealthy as some are in Charlotte.
School board member Eleanor Goettee argued that Wake has avoided the academic extremes that have plagued Charlotte.
But you don't see Wake high schools being accused of committing "academic genocide" on black students like some in Charlotte.
Ann Denlinger, president of the Wake Education Partnership, said Wake's diversity policy helps economic development in Raleigh. In contrast, she said that allowing resegregation in schools near downtown Charlotte have hurt the Queen City.
Wake school leaders also point out that they have a lower teacher turnover rate than Charlotte, especially when you look at the the high poverty schools in CMS.
But considering that Charlotte's percentage of low-income students is way higher than Wake's, it's fair to ask how much that's affecting the difference.